Top-seeded Eagles advance in tennis playoffs

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Beginning the postseason with a flourish, the Vista del Lago boys’ tennis team blanked visiting Patterson 9-0 Friday to advance to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.

All nine matches were straight-set victories, highlighted by No. 3 Sourav Vemulapalli’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Alex Alvarez. Vemulapalli won 24 straight points to win the second set, the first time in his life he has won a set without giving up a point.

“I’ve gone 6-0 a lot of times, but I’ve never had a golden set,” said Vemulapalli, who is nicknamed “The Process” after the Philadelphia 76ers’ rise from the NBA ashes to playoff prominence. “It makes me feel like I’ve hit a milestone, and the process continues.”

Vemulapalli, a freshman who played basketball in the winter and was late to join the tennis team, has risen through Vista’s ranks just like the 76ers as the season has progressed.

He was rusty and lost his first match of the season against Folsom but is 7-1 since then, only losing in a third-set tiebreaker to Capital Athletic League champion Rio Americano. He has moved from No. 4 to No. 3, nearly made it to No. 2, and has stated his goal is to be Vista’s No. 1 player by next season, although sophomore Ian Ng might have something to say about that. Ng won his match Friday 6-0, 6-2 against Chris Tapia.

“We’re really lucky to have some great young players at the top of our ladder,” Vista coach Marc Erwin said. “It makes us pretty tough to beat, and we’ll be tough for the next few years.”

Sophomore Samyak Surti won 6-2, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, junior Jack Taylor won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4 singles, sophomore Deeraj Gurram won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5 singles, and freshman Jonathan Lam won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 6 singles.

The Eagles (12-4), the top seed in the Division IV draw, should be bolstered even more for their second-round match Tuesday against visiting Livingston. They were without three players, including team captain and No. 4 singles player Joewe Low, because of an orchestra trip to Southern California.

“Our next opponent is going to be tougher, but I feel pretty good about our chances, especially with the guys we have returning to the lineup,” Erwin said. “Even though we’ll be playing someone better, we’ll be better too just from adding those guys back into the mix.”