Turlock High graduate Scott Gray started his tennis career a little later than most, but that didn't stop him from excelling at the high school level and then going on to help Fresno City College earn a state title.
Gray grew up a soccer player since the age of four, and it wasn’t until the age of 15 that he decided to pick up a racquet.
“I know my mom tried to get me to play earlier but I never listened,” Gray said. “I ended up liking tennis a lot more than soccer. I just like it better because it's an individual sport. I was so burnt out on team sports that I had enough. I began the season with coach Alaniz and joined the Turlock Fitness and Racquet club right after.”
Gray's slow start to tennis wasn't evident by the time he reached high school. The Bulldog captured three straight Central California Conference singles championships and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 semifinals two consecutive years while at Turlock High.
Gray was the first Turlock player to receive consecutive CCC singles titles, and although he had a senior year filled with injuries that slowed him down, it didn't stop him as he rallied to make a playoff run to top off his high school career.
“I had tennis elbow...I took a month off and when I did come back I even had to wear a brace for a little bit,” Gray said about his high school injuries.
Motivation from Turlock High head coach Juan Alaniz helped him flourish and progress in all aspects of the game, Gray said.
“Coach made it really fun and I wanted to come back and play for him. Coach really helped us train, he got the machine out and actually worked with us,” Gray said of his high school coach. “Most coaches don’t do that, they're just there."
“He is one of those kids you will talk about for years to come,” Turlock tennis coach Juan Alaniz said about Gray. “We witnessed the greatness and he was such a great example and will be for many years to come. You can’t just read about it, you have to watch it to believe it and we did. Scott does it naturally, he is unique.”
Due to Gray's late start to tennis, when the time came for him to move on to the next level of play, many Division I schools were hesitant. He ended up at Fresno City College, the top tennis program in the state for community colleges, having won the previous two state titles in 2012-2013.
“For not playing long; it’s hard to get noticed. I have been playing with guys that began at the age of four,” Gray said. “And they [recruiters] look at the paper and see that I have not been playing for too long and it cut my possibilities and I don’t think I could’ve gotten into a good D-1 college. So I decided to go to Fresno CC because their program is good and the coach [Steve Loop] can help me improve and hopefully get into a good D-1 school.”
Fresno City College won the JC state title this year with Gray as the number four singles player behind three phenomenal stars from Australia and Italy. The Rams took the league and state by storm going 19-0 this year. Fresno City is currently on a 40 game winning streak..
“It’s good...I improved a lot, [and I'm] very happy with my decision to go to Fresno,” Gray said. “I really enjoy playing out there. I just like the feeling of knowing you’re out there doing something you love.”
Coming into his final season at Fresno CC, Gray hopes to continue to improve his game and perhaps progress onto the next level of play.
“I am pretty focused on this upcoming year, but I would like to go Division I somewhere, anywhere, I just want to keep playing tennis,” Gray said.