Arvin captures first section boys tennis title since 2011, defeating Riverdale 6-3 in D-V final

ARVIN — The last time the Arvin boys tennis team won a Central Section championship, Bears No. 1 singles player Rafael Pantoja was still a preschooler.

Now, 13 years later, the Arvin junior has brought the school another.

Pantoja teamed with Zion Orozco to win a hard-fought doubles match Tuesday and then finished his day with a 6-1, 6-0 victory in singles to help lead the No. 3 Bears to a 6-3 victory over No. 9 Riverdale to secure the Division V title.

“It’s really exciting,” Pantoja said. “All of our hard work has really paid off. And these three years being connected with each other and having an awesome team — it wasn’t just me, it was my whole team winning it. And I don’t think I would have done it without them and my coaches. They really helped me throughout this journey, making me a better tennis player.”

There were plenty of close matches, but Arvin put itself in prime position for its first championship since 2011 by sweeping the three doubles matches.

“I’m so proud of them,” Bears coach Denise Franco said. “We put in the hard work every day, weekends. I knew that they could do it.”

Pantoja and Orozco shook off a rough second set and defeated Brandon Espiritu and Javier Duarte, 6-0, 4-6, 10-3 in a super tiebreaker. Israel Rodriguez and Anthony Parra won in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 over Pedro Escobedo and Jose Hernandez and Ruben Leon and Karlos Avila won a marathon match 7-6 (7), 2-6, 12-10 over Juan Hernandez and Giovani Rodriguez for a 3-0 lead.

That meant the Bears had to win only two of the six singles matches to clinch the win.

No. 6 singles player Yakrib Alshaif edged his team closer with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Christopher Gonzalez, and Pantoja closed things out a few minutes later with his straight-set victory over Espiritu.

“Every single one of them brings something different,” Franco said. “And collectively, they make it happen. I knew it was going to happen the moment that we started this season. Seeing them come up since they were freshmen I could just see that they were something special.”

Arvin 6, Riverdale 3

SINGLES: Rafael Pantoja, A, d. Brandon Espiritu, 6-1, 6-0; Javier Duarte, R, d. Israel Rodriguez, 6-1, 6-4; Pedro Escobedo, R, d. Zion Orozco, 7-6 (9), 6-2; Jose Hernandez, R, d. Anthony Parra, 7-5, 6-4; Andres Martinez, A, d. Felipe Mora, 6-2, 6-4; Yakrib Alshaif, A, d.Christopher Gonzalez, 6-2, 6-1.

DOUBLES: Rafael Pantoja/Zion Orozco, A, d. Brandon Espiritu/Javier Duarte, 6-0, 4-6, 10-3; Israel Rodriguez/Anthony Parra, A, d. Pedro Escobedo/Jose Hernandez, 6-1, 6-4; Ruben Leon/Karlos Avila, A, d. Juan Hernandez Alcala/Giovani Rodriguez, 7-6 (7), 2-6, 12-10.