|High Desert Tennis Association|
Aztecs edge Hawks in league battle
By GERALD TANG / Staff Writer
VICTORVILLE — Even though it’s time to play a little catch-up, the Silverado tennis team wasn't quite ready to emerge from its Spring Break slumber Tuesday. Barstow pounced for a big Desert Sky League road victory, 10-8.
While the Aztecs (6-2, 2-1 DSL) were facing their third DSL opponent, it was a belated league opener for Silverado (3-2, 0-1 DSL). Last week’s match against Victor Valley was postponed because both schools were on Spring Break.
The Hawks play three DSL matches this week, so they will have to work through early-season kinks quickly.
"I saw a lot of rust and how do I put this nicely — lazy footwork,” Silverado coach Suzi Paxton said. “Consequently, when your footwork is a little bit slow, then you're out of position and you're striking the ball at the wrong angle. ... Today gave them a little wake-up call."
Barstow’s doubles teams delivered the message, winning seven of nine sets. Tim Wardell and Auro Reddy continued their stellar season with a sweep.
Their only loss thus far came against Burroughs.
The seniors played No. 2 doubles last year, and coach Bryan King decided to keep them together this season rather than put them in singles.
"We're pretty strong,” Reddy said. “We're always playing together, practicing every shot."
But it was the No. 2 tandem of Deepak Padmanabha and Chawalit Aojanepong who came through in the last match of the day. With the Aztecs leading 9-8, Padmanabha and Chawalit defeated Silverado’s No. 1 duo of Tim Le and Jim Wisnewski.
The set clinched the team’s victory and kept the match from being decided by a tiebreaker (total games).
"This was a big one for us,” King said. “I expected it to be tough, and it was. Silverado’s always tough, especially at home."
The Hawks were dominant at the top two singles slots. Ben Zagala and John Park each swept three sets. Zagala, who didn't stop practicing during the 11-day layoff, looked sharp while battling a strong eastward wind that blew across the width of the court.
During one game point against Barstow No. 1 Philip Green, a gust of wind sent a stray ball rolling toward Zagala’s feet. The senior hopped over it and smashed a forehand winner. Using more topspin and slice serves in the windy conditions, Zagala cruised the rest of the day, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
He blasted three straight aces against the Aztecs' Jordan Green and converted an athletic backhand volley that even had his opponent applauding. But it wasn't enough to push Silverado to a good start in league play, although the Hawks won't have to wait long for another chance. They will play at cross-town rival Victor Valley on Thursday.