El Camino women’s tennis team ends season with loss to Rio Hondo College


Violet Simpson returns with a backhand play as she battled with bronchitis and dehydration throughout the game in El Camino’s loss against Rio Hondo College. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

Between the El Camino and Rio Hondo College women’s tennis teams, it was a different tale on why the match was a 5-4 loss for the Warriors.

For the visiting Roadrunners, it was the gusty winds that kicked up on the afternoon of Thursday, and took them out of their game, so said their coach, Karen Unger.

For the Warriors, it was exhaustion, as No. 1 singles player sophomore Violet Simpson could go no further in a lengthy singles match, giving Rio Hondo the win.

Leading 7-5 after the first set against Rio Hondo’s Nicole Robbins, Simpson, who was coming off a viral illness, dehydration and bronchitis, started fading down the stretch.

When she lost the second set 3-6, EC coach Steven Van Kanegan met up with her and told her there was no harm in throwing in the towel; a victory for EC wasn’t worth her health and wouldn’t really affect the postseason for her or the squad.

The two decided to see how the third set would go. When Simpson fell behind 3-0, Van Kanegan went out again and Simpson quickly agreed to give up.

“If it was 2-1, I’d still be in there” said Simpson, who added she spent part of last weekend hospitalized.

Simpson said she had trouble breathing at the end of her doubles match. She was often coughing in the singles match, but came back from an early deficit to take the set.

“She’s a fighter, as tough as they come,” Van Kanegan said.

It was the regular season finale for the Warriors, who finished 0-10.

“It’s been a weird, weird year,” Van Kanegan said. “This season has been incredibly challenging and interesting.”

Because of illnesses and other roster challenges, EC was only able to field a full squad only once this season. On Thursday, the Warriors’ short roster cost them two points.

The Warriors benefited from strong doubles play against Rio Hondo.Sophomore Natsuki Hoshiko had a solid outing with freshman Sophia Manouchehry, winning 8-2. She also won her singles match 6-0, 6-1.

Freshman Stephanie Kingham, who later won her singles match 6-0, 6-3, combined with Simpson in doubles to beat Robbins and Jessica Diaz, 8-1.

The season isn’t over for women’s tennis; Van Kanegan said Simpson and possibly Kingham and Hoshiko may see action in next week’s conference tournament.