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Bulldogs tennis takes final match to advance to semis for first time

Bulldogs tennis takes final match to advance to semis for first time

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POSTED May 14, 2010 10:57 p.m.

Nathan Potter’s focus was narrow and straight like a dark alley, despite the circumstances surrounding his match Thursday afternoon at the Turlock High tennis courts under a baking sun. After winning the first set, he realized that he had to top his opponent in the last showdown of Turlock High’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I quarterfinal meeting with Jesuit High.

He did not fold.

He triumphed, in fact, beating Jesuit’s John Cahalan 6-4, 7-6 (5) to give the Bulldogs the 5-4 win, the first postseason semifinals win in Turlock High history, after having been stumped the three previous times in the second round. Potter’s teammates celebrated by leaping over the net for some friendly moshing, though the embrace was postponed for a few minutes to allow both squads to go through the post-match handshakes.

“The spirit of my teammates helped me,” he said.

For Potter, he was experiencing “one of the most pressured situations I‘ve ever been through.” He realized what was at stake midway through his match, though he won the first set. He knew every swing, every shot meant something, especially with him being one of a trio of seniors who were a part of the three previous Turlock teams that felt the disappointment of faltering in the quarterfinals.

But now, the Bulldogs must face a hard-to-stop force: Davis Senior High, a team that has won two of the last three Section titles and is a regular postseason finalist. Turlock will play in Davis at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, a match coach Juan Alaniz and his players said could likely result in a loss due to their opponent’s depth, skills and experience.

Then again, Turlock understands the significance of Thursday’s win.

It means the Bulldogs are moving on. And they did it by earning all five wins in the singles matches from No. 1 Scott Gray, No. 2 Trevor Purdy, No. 3 Mike Lazar, No. 4 Alex Wolski and, of course, Potter, the No. 5 guy who kept it cool under intense pressure to win.

However, the Bulldogs lost all of their doubles matches.

By the time the last set rolled around in Potter’s match, players from both teams gathered up on each side of the court. Each time Potter tallied a point, his Turlock teammates cheered. And the Jesuit players did the same for Cahalan, who appeared to be tired late in the second set.

“When Nathan was up 6-4,” said fellow senior Purdy, who remains undefeated in singles action, “I knew Nathan had the experience of playing all four years to pull off a match like that. He won’t fold under the pressure. He’ll go all the way.”

It was an intense match, but Alaniz and his Bulldogs figured that Potter would get the win.

Afterward, Alaniz referenced Potter’s match against Pitman High’s Jacob Belloli that went to three sets. Though Potter lost, Alaniz said, it provided him the experience of being under a pressure situation.

So naturally, he was all cool and collective in Thursday’s match.

But now comes a tougher task.

“The good thing was that we were able to get the two wins,” Alaniz said about taking the first two rounds, “but the reality is, we’re going to play Davis now.” The coach then burst into a loud laughter — a seemingly refreshing emotion after watching Potter’s intense fight.

 

Pitman's playoff run ends

By only producing one win, the Pitman boys tennis team ended its season with an 8-1 loss to Armijo High on Thursday afternoon in Fairfield.

The Pride, who played for the Section title last season, got one win from their No. 2 doubles team in Brach Malke and Luis Velasquez. Armijo swept the six singles matches, in addition to winning the No. 1 and 3 doubles matches.

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

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