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Bulldogs to face off in singles title match
CCAL tennis singles 1
Turlock's Joe Chan, left, and Peter Wilson will meet Thursday at Modesto Junior College for the Central California Athletic League's boys singles title (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

The stage is set for an all-Turlock High showdown for the Central California Athletic League boys singles tennis championship.

Defending CCAL singles champ Joe Chan and Peter Wilson will meet in the final for a second consecutive season. They’ll square off Thursday at 11 a.m. at Modesto Junior College.

Chan breezed to a 6-2, 6-3 semifinal win over Pitman’s Craig Martin, while Wilson defeated Downey’s Brady Black 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.

Both Chan and Wilson will advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section singles playoffs. The winner of the third-place match between Martin and Black, which will be played today at 2 p.m. at Pitman High, also will move on to the section tournament.

“We always want to have Turlock on top,” said Chan, who bested Modesto’s Brent Krueger 6-1, 6-1 in the opener and teammate Richard Wang 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. “I’m just excited to play against him in the finals again. It’s a great opportunity.”

CCAL singles 2
Pitman's Craig Martin returns a shot during his semifinal match against Turlock's Joe Chan during Tuesday's Central California Athletic League boys singles tournament at Modesto Junior College (JOE CORTEZ/The Journal).

Martin, for the most part, was pleased with his tournament run.

“I would say the tournament went better than I was doing during the season — the season was a little rough, so I can be happy with making it to the semis,” said Martin, who said he was making changes to his forehand and backhand during the season. “But, props to Joe. He’s a tough player.”

Pitman coach Jeff Hayes agreed.

“I don’t know if Craig expected to make it to the semifinals,” said Hayes. “He had a great outing today. But Chan played lights-out today.”

While Chan didn’t drop a set in his three-match run-up to the final, Wilson’s semifinal win over Black was a grueling three-setter under a glaring sun that’s been hiding behind clouds for the majority of the season. The heat seemed to affect Black, who started to cramp up during the third set and was barely able to finish the meet.

“There was a small breeze, which helped, but there were a few times when the sun was beating down on me; it was difficult,” said Wilson, the league’s reigning MVP, who toppled Gregori’s Eli Braley 7-5, 6-2 in his opener and Pitman’s Russell Olvera 6-4, 7-5 in the quarters. “I kind of pride myself on being physical and being able to stay in the game a long time. I saw (Black) kind of getting tired and I was looking forward to that, but in no way, shape or form did I want him to cramp up like that.”

And now coach Gary Harris must bite his lip and see which one of his players comes out on top.

“I didn’t say we expected it, but it was a goal of ours to have an all-Turlock final, like last year,” said Harris. “Now I have to sit there and watch and say nothing. I know, maybe, a weakness that they could probably expose, but I’m just going to be quiet and let them figure it out.”

The CCAL doubles tournament gets underway Thursday at 9 a.m. at MJC.