With the Suburban Prairie Conference tennis tournament just around the corner, the Riverside-Brookfield boys' tennis team fell just short against the Lyons Township JV squad on Thursday in the first of two tune-ups before the conference finale.
Bulldogs coach Brennan Denny decide the non-conference dual with the Lions' JVers would be a good time to shuffle his regular lineup around, so in his mind, it hardly matters that his netters dropped a 4-3 decision.
"(LT) has so much talent in their program that they still have a lot of quality juniors and seniors with match experience on their JV team," Denny said. "For us, this meeting is about getting some of our guys some experience and giving them a chance to try some different things on the court."
Andrew Dzija, who normally plays the No. 1 singles spot for RB because of his ability to rise to the challenge of facing down other teams' top player, occupied his customary role Thursday. The senior lost his match 6-1, 6-4.
For the other two singles spots, Denny broke up his top doubles team of Max Taylor and Mike Skiba. In the No. 2 spot, Skiba rallied to win his match 3-6, 6-3 and 7-1 as the third set was played as a tiebreaker.
Taylor fell in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 in the No. 3 singles spot.
On the doubles side, the Bulldogs tossed sophomores Ales Lanzhotsky and Matt Patton together as the top doubles team. Usually the strength of the squad as the No. 2 and 3 singles players, Lanzhotsky and Patton found themselves on the losing end of a 7-5, 7-5 result despite beginning to gel as a duo later in the match.
Raul Vasquez and Ethan Ard lost 6-2, 6-1 at the No. 2 doubles spot, the regular No. 3 combo of Conor Ryan and Barry Lao won 6-2, 6-4 and John Franzo and Tom Glista teamed up to win 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 4 spot.
It was the second straight 4-3 loss suffered by the Bulldogs. The previous Tuesday, they finished their conference dual slate with a match against Oswego that ended in the same score with RB on the bottom. Oswego finished it's SPC season unbeaten in six dual matches.
But even in that loss, the Bulldogs found positives.
Lanzhotsky and Patton won their matches against Oswego. Patton improved his SPC record to 6-0, ensuring he'll be the top seed when RB travels back to Oswego this Friday and Saturday for the conference meet. Lanzhotsky went to 4-2 with his win, so will likely be a No. 2 or 3 seed.
Fonaris also teamed with Sean Zeman to beat Oswego at the No. 4 doubles spot.
The Bulldogs, who finished conference with a 2-4 dual record, might not be ready to storm the SPC tournament, but coming close against Oswego has them confident. They hope to throw the regular season marks out the window as a good showing this weekend could prove to be a springboard into sectionals.
RB played its last regular season match at home Tuesday against Walther Lutheran.