It was an unfortunate ending to what had been a spirited and well-played tennis match.
Eduardo Gonzalez of Palm Desert High School earned the Desert Empire League boys tennis individual title Thursday when his opponent, defending league champion Nico Calixto, had to retire late in the second set with cramps that seemed to impact different parts of his legs at different times.
“It was such a great match and it was kind of windy, which made it kind of tough and kind of fun,” Gonzalez said after scoring a 7-5, 5-3 (retire) victory at Xavier Prep High School in Palm Desert . “I’m happy I was able to fight my way through.”
Gonzalez ‘victory gave Palm Desert a sweep of the league titles Thursday. Palm Desert’s No. 1 doubles team, Kenan Rizvanbegovic and Jake Presser, scored a 6-1, 6-1 win in the finals over fellow Aztecs Simon Frary and Tei Park.
Calixto, a senior for Palm Springs, lost in the finals of the DEL individuals as a freshman in 2019 and won the title in 2021, with no title awarded in 2020 because of COVID-19.
With Gonzalez ahead 5-3 in the second set and preparing to serve for the match, Calixto went to his knees with cramps in both legs. A trainer worked on Calixto’s legs for beyond the allotted five minutes, because the cramps moved from his quads to his calf di lui. Finally, the decision was made for Calixto to retire.
“It started in the first game of the second set,” Calixto said. “I kept telling them I was cramping every game.”
Gonzalez, a junior at Palm Desert, wasn’t intimidated by playing the defending DEL champion, jumping to a 3-1 lead and holding on for a 7-5 win in the first set. The players swapped games in the second set, but when Gonzalez broke Calixto’s serve to take a 5-3 lead, he was poised for the victory that came instead from the retirement.
“I played really well. I had confidence in myself, ”Gonzalez said. “I’ve known him since I was little. I know who he was and the kind of player he is. “
Windy day on the courts
The second set in particular was impacted by winds that were getting stronger as the afternoon wore on, rattling the fences around the Xavier Prep courts and sending several shots from both players beyond the baseline at the south end of the court.
“Yeah, you’ve got to play smarter and you can’t go for as many shots,” Gonzalez said.
Both Gonzalez and Calixto will advance to CIF-Southern Section individual play. In the third-place match, Travis Pimentel of Shadow Hills High School defeated Bhargav Jakkaraju of Palm Desert 6-1, 6-2 to earn the league’s alternate spot for CIF play.
In the doubles finals, Rizvanbegovic and Presser easily cruised to the title over Frary and Park, with both teams having already clinched CIF berths.
“” We were able to show that we are the best doubles team in the DEL, “Rizvanbedovic said. “Now we want to prove we are the best double teams in the CIF.”
Presser, a freshman, said there is a reason his partnership with the senior Rizvanbedovic works: familiarity.
“We’ve played together since I was 7 and he was 10,” so we know each other and our games, ”Presser said. “Sometimes we don’t even have to talk on the court.”