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Vista tennis team ready for playoffs

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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For the second straight year, Vista del Lago?s tennis team has qualified for the Division III playoffs. The Eagles have had another solid season, finishing 10-2 in Sierra Valley Conference play and 13-3 overall. Vista finished second in the SVC, losing twice to league champion River City. Vista opens the Sac-Joaquin Section III playoffs Tuesday at home against the winner of Monday?s match between Delhi and Bret Harte. West Campus and Placer are likely opponents in the quarterfinals and semis, respectively, if the Eagles can make it that far. Vista defeated West Campus 7-2 in a recent match and lost to Placer by the same score earlier in the season. ?You never know with the matchups what can happen,? Vista coach Chris Evers said. ?We beat West Campus and they lost in the section finals to Placer last year so that was a big confidence boost for us. We?d like to get another shot at Placer. They beat us 7-2 but there were a couple of close matches.? Undefeated Sierra Valley Conference Champion and Most Valuable Player Sandeep Gurram has been Vista?s top player, but the strength of this team is its depth. The fact that Kyle Johnson, Vista?s No. 4 singles player, made it to the finals of the league singles tournament backs that fact. Evers also said he believes his No. 8 singles player, who saw court time in several matches this season, is also undefeated. ?The fact that this year we?ve got nine matches to score in the playoffs and last year we only had seven helps us,? Evers said. ?Depth is our strength and we?ve got it. Our mixed doubles team is 14-2 on the season. We?ve also got great senior leadership from Kriti and Dina and Kyle.? The Eagles faired well at the Sierra Valley Conference singles and doubles tournament. Gurram capped off an undefeated conference season by winning the super singles tournament, defeating his own teammate, Johnson, in the final. ?Sandeep is mentally very strong and adapts to different styles of play very well,? Evers said. ?He?s very consistent, has a pretty good serve and is quick. He?s got solid ground strokes with pace or with slice and can serve and volley when he needs to. He?s an all-around good player.? With Vista?s No. 2 and 3 singles players, Gus Hendrick and Sai Rathish, unable to play in the tournament, Johnson joined Gurram and had an outstanding tournament, making it all the way to the finals. ?I knew Kyle would do well, but he surprised me,? Evers said. ?He?s like Sandeep in that he?s very intelligent and a scrappy player. He had three tough matches and beat Galt?s number-one player, the third-seeded and number-one player from Liberty Ranch and then beat Cosumnes Oaks? top player and number-two seed.? In the doubles tournament, Hendrick and Julian Rodkiewicz made it to the finals before losing to Cosumnes Oaks. Hendrick and Rodkiewicz will join Gurram and Johnson at the section tournament on Thursday and Friday at Oak Park in Stockton. Johnson, Rathish, Hendrick and Kriti Bhatia joined Gurram as all-conference players, while Gage Huber, Dina Alarian and Danica Greenall were honorable mention selections.