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Sticking together

Despite individual aspect of tennis, PHS, THS hoping for team success

Sticking together

Britney Leon, about to return a shot during a recent match, is the No. 1 singles player for the Pitman High girls tennis team.


POSTED September 9, 2011 10:34 p.m.

The truth is, Turlock High is a considerable favorite to finish atop the Central California Conference girls tennis standings, thanks to the Bulldogs having won the past four titles and owning a 34-0 league record in the three previous seasons. Pitman, the crosstown rival, knows this.

“Everyone’s going to be chasing Turlock,” Pitman coach Jeff Hayes predicted.

His predication is a safe one, even if Turlock didn’t return this season with its longtime coach in Juan Alaniz, who resigned last season after taking the program to historical heights. The Bulldogs are satisfied with their new coach, Linda Bejaran, who’s not really new.

Bejaran coached the Bulldogs 15 years ago for five seasons and made them into league champions. She then resigned from her post to focus on raising a family, though she also made time to coach a high school in Reno, Nev., where she played tennis for the University of Reno.

She couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach the Bulldogs again.

Turlock returns a large chunk of last season’s league championship team, with only four of the 16 players listed considered new to the program. Ashley Gomez, Natalia Lima, Taylor Olson, Jillian Temple and Katrina Santiago are Turlock’s top six players, with Gomez holding down the No. 1 singles spot.

“Our strength is that we’re fit,” Bejaran said recently, as her players were running a mile at Debely Stadium before they hit the tennis courts for practice. “We’ve been training hard and conditioning. They also play as a team. They really respect each other, they encourage each other and I think that says a lot about the team.”

Pitman tennis also has team unity. The Pride are coming off a 3-7 league season, with junior Britney Leon leading as the No. 1 singles player. She is followed by Emily Arnold, Michi Kirahuri, Bri Perez, Julia Harris and Bree Harris, as four of the top six players are underclassmen.

“This is a quality group of student-athletes who are really enjoying the competition,” said Hayes, the Pitman coach.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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