HHS Tennis
Hughson tennis team wins first playoff match

What Hughson’s co-ed tennis team lacks in experience, the Huskies more than made up for with effort, heart and pure athleticism. How else to explain how a squad with four of its top players just learning the sport contended for a Trans-Valley League title until the final match of the regular season?

The Huskies were 8-1 in the TVL heading into their showdown with unbeaten Escalon (9-0). A win would earn Hughson a share of its third TVL championship in a row. Sadly, a loss in mixed doubles – the final match of the day – left Hughson in second place.

Still, there was a lot to celebrate for coach Danny Rytting and his players. The Huskies qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 Co-ed Team Tournament, which began Thursday. And two of its doubles teams also earned spots in the Section Individual Tournament in Stockon on May 13.

“With the number of first-year players we have, it’s been a remarkable season,” Rytting said. “Of the 14 who competed on a regular basis, we had four first-time players who had never played tennis before.”

Asked to explain how such tennis novices were able to achieve success so quickly, Rytting said simply, “They are good athletes who put in some hard work early on.”

Injuries and inexperience forced Rytting to juggle his lineup throughout the year, but the Huskies finally settled on their top group the final couple of weeks of the regular season. They helped Hughson earn the No. 6 seed and a first-round home match in the 13-team team bracket.

Hughson cruised to a 7-2 win over No. 11 Florin on Thursday, but faces a tougher test on Tuesday when it travels to Sacramento to take on No. 3 West Campus – the same team that knocked the Huskies out of the playoffs in the second round a year ago.

“Florin plays in the same league and their coach said West is loaded. They have most of their players back and won most of their matches 9-0,” Rytting said. “We’ll definitely go in as the underdogs.”

Here is the likely Hughson lineup that will face West Campus, with their TVL records:

Boys singles: Caleb Rytting, junior, 10-0. Luca Salazar, senior, 6-4.

Girls singles: Amaris Noyce, senior, 4-1. Chloe Coonce, senior, 6-4.

Boys doubles: Tristan Burroughs, senior, and Aiden Ramos, freshman, 8-2. Israel Gudino, senior, and Aiden Barrios, senior, 6-4.

Girls doubles: Madi Duron, senior, and Aubrey Lockwood, junior, 10-0. Emma Dubel, sophomore, and Rachelle Crawford, junior, 8-0.

Mixed doubles: Matthew Ruelas, junior, and Ruth Alvarado, senior, 5-5.

Regardless of what happens as a team, four Huskies will compete May 13 at Oak Park in Stockton in the individual tournament. Rytting and Burroughs won the TVL boys doubles title while Duron and Lockwood did the same on the girls side.

“We’re just happy to still be competing,” Danny Rytting said. “It’s been a fun season.