According to coach Raustand Nzoule, the Tigers' first season reaching the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs was a good one, even though the team was knocked out in the first round.
"I started with team practices in June — way earlier than usual because we lost many girls from the previous season to graduation," Nzoule said. "I did not want to see the Tigers at the bottom of the league standings."
In 2013, Patterson (7-5) finished third in the Western Athletic Conference, with four of the Tigers’ losses to two league teams that qualified for the playoffs: Los Banos High and Central Catholic High of Modesto.
"I was able to get the new players going as they learned the fundamentals," Nzoule said. "They were excited and dedicated. They played for each other. The motivation was high, as many of them were very competitive."
Patterson made its first appearance in the SJS Division II playoffs on Nov. 4.
But the season ended for the Tigers, as host Valley High of Sacramento won five of six singles matches and one of three doubles matches for a 6-3 victory.
Patterson's Avery Chairez won, 6-1, 6-4, in singles play, and teammates Ariana Rico and Ngoc Nguyen followed with a three-set win 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in doubles action.
The Tigers’ doubles team, Catarina Borges and Wendy Zuleta, won in two sets, 6-4, 6-4.
"Catarina, Wendy, Ngoc and Ariana were the ones to go around and motivate and cheer the singles players, as they struggled," Nzoule said. "These same girls also showed poise on the court, as they dominated their respective matches."
Despite the loss, Nzoule said he looked forward to seeing what the future held for the program.
"This season is the result of hard work and dedication," Nzoule said. "I'm looking forward to coaching any girl who is returning next year, as they were all amazing this season."
Patterson's contingent recently earned all-league recognition from the conference, and had four players named to the all-WAC first team, including sisters Kelby and Kendal Norfleet for singles play and Ngoc and Rico for doubles competition.
Nzoule said it's the constant challenge along with the progression of young talent, which keeps him going.
"The girls tennis program is an ongoing work in progress. It is very difficult to remain steady," Nzoule said. "(Next season), I will have to go back to the drawing board, as I usually get new girls, most of them tennis neophytes, and basically teach them everything."
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.