The boys tennis team started the Valley Oak League season on Tuesday, Feb. 26, by beating defending VOL champion Manteca, 8-1.
One of the big differences from last year, when Kimball finished 9-5 in the VOL, is No. 1 singles player, junior Logan Staggs.
Staggs went undefeated in VOL singles matches in 2011, but missed last year’s VOL season because of his commitment to academics and to United State Tennis Association events.
He has just returned winning a national championship at the USTA National Opens, Feb. 23 to 25 in Waco, Texas. The tournament win confirmed his No. 3 national ranking in the USTA among 16-year-old players.
On Tuesday, Staggs beat Manteca’s Mike Lopez 6-0, 6-2. Kimball’s other singles players won their matches in straight sets, and the Jaguars lost only the No. 1 doubles match.
“They’re very solid down the lineup,” he said. “They’re definitely well-trained.”
Junior Mark Dalupan is the team’s No. 3 singles player, but knows that can change as he and freshmen Garrett Chun and Ivan Acosta compete with each other.
“It doesn’t really matter where our coach puts us,” Dalupan said. “I feel we could all do equally as well.”
Coach Danette McDaniel said she expects good performances at all levels of the team’s strength ladder.
“I have some lower on the ladder who are very good players,” she said. “Sometimes the doubles will clinch the team match.”
West Wolf Pack
West High’s 2012 season proved that anything can happen in the Tri-City Athletic League.
The Wolf Pack typically expects to compete with St. Mary’s for first place in the league, but the season ended with Edison High in first with a 10-0 record, Stagg in last at 0-10, and all the other teams — West, McNair, St. Mary’s and Tokay — tied at 5-5.
West got the second-seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs based on individual games won, but lost to Folsom in the first round.
West’s No. 1 singles player, senior Michael Melech is back for his fourth year. He said the team is a good mix of new and returning players.
“A lot of people were new last year and came back, so we should be better,” he said. Another returning senior is doubles player, Calvin Ly. Senior Miguel Madruga, in his first year on the team, earned himself a spot as the No. 4 singles player.
Melech and Madruga led their team to West’s 5-4 win on Tuesday, Feb. 26, over visiting Tracy, with a 6-1, 6-3 win for Melech and a 6-2, 6-1 win for Madruga.
Also winning for West was junior singles player Ahssan Khan, 6-2, 6-4. West’s doubles teams of Bob Lopez and Josh Theobald and Peter Creasman and Steven Tran also won on Tuesday.
West opens its league season on Tuesday, March 12, at home against McNair of Stockton.
The biggest change for Tracy High’s tennis team is a new format for San Joaquin Athletic Association play.
Instead of three singles matches and three doubles matches in each league contest, the SJAA will play six singles and three doubles this year.
“It’s good because that’s the format we have once we get to sections (playoffs),” said Tracy coach Patrick O’Brien. “Plus, it gives more kids the opportunity to play, and that’s something we wanted.”
Tracy went 8-2 last year and placed second in league last year behind Lincoln, and then was eliminated in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs with a 9-0 loss to Oak Ridge.
Tracy senior Paul Gleason said he likes his team’s chances of making playoffs.
Gleason, the team’s No. 1 singles player, said his goal is to see everyone on the team make progress.
“We have a lot of strong guys, especially at the bottom of the ladder,” he said. “Ultimately, I feel that as a team it’s more important than the individual, so I’m really out there winning for the team.”
Returning junior Derek Paris added that teamwork means setting and meeting goals in practice.
“Even early in the season we’re already getting better. We’re going to improve from here,” Paris said.
The Bulldogs opened the season with a 5-4 non-league loss at West High on Tuesday, Feb. 26. In the singles the Bulldogs logged a 6-3, 6-1 win for Paris, a 6-1, 7-5 win for returning senior Andrew Jurado, and a 6-2, 6-4 win for sophomore Ajay Cheema. Tracy’s doubles team of sophomore Rushi Arumalli and junior Nico Cady won their match 6-4, 7-6 (5).
Tracy gets into SJAA play on March 6 at Lodi and will play the Richards/Kelly Memorial Tournament in Oakley on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2.
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.