Bakerfield Serves up Easy Opener for Victorious Vaqueros

Brandon Hensley

It would have been such a waste for the Bakersfield College men’s tennis team to travel all the way to Glendale for a Western State Conference showdown with the Vaqueros only to have the match cancelled by rain, which is what was in danger of happening.

Instead, the skies parted, the courts dried, and the trip turned out to be a fruitful one – for Glendale, that is.

The Vaqs opened their Western State Conference schedule against Bakersfield Feb. 17 with a 7-2 victory at GCC, pushing their record overall to 4-1. Glendale won five of the six singles matches and two of the three doubles matches. The Renegades dropped to 0-1 in conference play, and 2-2 overall.

The victory came without sophomore team captain Ryan Stanbury, who is out indefinitely with a herniated disc in his lower back. The the Vaqueros are a deep team, though, as head coach Bob Mackay indicated. “We don’t drop off, 1-6,” MacKay said of his talented roster, adding that his team is a “strong playoff contender” in 2009.

The Vaqs are currently ranked fourth in the Southern California standings.

Sophomore standout Emmanuel Haug had an easy time dispatching Bakersfield’s Neal Wetterholn in two sets, 6-0, 6-1. Joey Tresierras downed Matt Booth, 6-2, 6-4. Paul Nagapetyan beat Ben Nieto, 6-1, 6-0, and Marko Gortinski also swept Fili Nieves, 6-1, 6-2. Alex Matevosian was the only Vaquero to lose in singles, falling to Bryce Naranjo in three sets, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

Vaquero star Rony Yeghnazary, a sophomore transfer from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, was taken to the brink by Kevin Lott, but he eventually defeated the Renegade, winning in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Yeghnazary, still playing his way into shape, took a personal time out during the third set to go behind the court and throw up. He returned a minute later to finish a match that had started almost two hours earlier. What exactly happened? “I wasn’t as good today,” Yeghnazary said. “I ate too much before the match.”

“I thought I had an easy match,” he said, speaking on his overconfidence in the early going. “By the time [Lott] won the second set, I was like, ‘I got to get my focus back.'”

In the doubles matches, Haug and Yeghnazary defeated Nieves and Wetterholn, 8-2, while Nagapetyan and Gortinski beat Javier Rios and Nieto, 8-2. Glendale’s lone loss came when Matevosian and Tresierras lost to Lott and Booth, 9-8 (8-6).

The atmosphere was a loose one, with the injured Stanbury playing the role of vocal cheerleader from the side, and Vaquero coach MacKay, extending fist bumps with his team after every match. On this rainy day, the sun broke through long enough for the Vaqs to display their talent, something they think can take them far in 2009.

“Every time you start a season you want to win that first one,” MacKay said. One down – many more likely to follow.