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BOYS TENNIS: Monarchs beat Bears 5-4, prepare for playoff run

Playoff-bound Exeter Monarchs secure their ninth win of the season against the Selma Bears

SELMA – Despite the number one player losing his singles match, the Monarchs pulled off a 5-4 win over the Selma Bears in their second to last match of the season.

The Exeter Monarchs recorded their ninth win of the season with a score of 5-4 against the Selma Bears on April 13. Even though number one Sammy Mendez lost to his opponent, other singles players Calvin Brooks, Joey Cortez, Michael Campos and Chris Vasquez recorded wins. The doubles pair of Eli Wendt and JJ Jauregui secured the fifth win necessary for the Monarchs to triumph. The Monarchs have already punched their ticket to the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

“I’m proud of the way the team has gelled and connected this year as a unit,” Exeter head coach Patrick Hendricks said. “They know how to have fun and work hard and ultimately play the game with character and integrity while striving to win every time.”

Brooks, a senior, played against Leo M in a close matchup that lasted well past the other top four games. In the first set, Brooks was up first 5-1 and M promised him that he’d come back from behind. It ended up going to a tiebreaker and Brooks prevailed 7-3. Due to the tiebreaker and their close matchup, they were on the court nearly an hour and a half playing the second set, which Brooks won 6-4.

“That’s the best part of the game,” Brooks said. “If you’re playing and you’re just blowing the kid out, it’s hard to even try. But playing someone like Leo, a really talented player who’s been playing for a while, it’s an unmatched feeling.”

Brooks secured the third win for the Monarchs before joining the rest of the team in cheering on his teammate, Jake Stutsman, who was the final single player on the court. Stutsman lost to his opponent and the Monarchs needed a doubles win to secure the victory over the Bears. Though the top pairs of Mendez with Brooks and Cortez with Campos lost, Wendt and Jauregui, who hadn’t played singles matches, came through with an 8-0 win.

The other close game for the Monarchs was between Cortez and Diego M. Cortez won the first set 6-3, but M won the second set 6-4, so it went to a tiebreaker. As opposed to a regular tiebreaker, a super tiebreaker goes to 10 points, so it became an intense competition between Cortez and M, who have played each other in previous years. Cortez ultimately triumphed 10-5.

“It got a little heated, but that’s sports,” Cortez said. “I was proud of myself. I was trying my best to stay calm.”

The Monarchs have come together this year as a team to go further than they have in past seasons. Last year the team didn’t win a single league match, but this year they’re already 5-2 in league play and 9-6 overall. They have even qualified for playoffs, which Exeter hasn’t done for a decade. They will face Hanford West at home on April 18. Playoffs begin the week after.

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