The boys at Turlock and Pitman high are in full swing as the 2012 tennis season is underway. Last year the Pride beat out the Bulldogs for their seventh Central California Conference championship and fifth undefeated season. Turlock sat in second place for the second year in a row behind Pitman, something the Bulldogs plan on changing this time around.
“We got down to the nitty-gritty,” Turlock’s head coach Juan Alaniz said of the Turlock-Pitman matchup. “Every year we play them tough, they just have good running kids going through the program.”
Although Turlock has some talented players, Pitman has plans of its own for this season, mainly earning an eighth CCC title, as well as added motivation.
“I’m excited about this season because it’s my last year and coach Davis’ last year coaching. We’re getting too old and we’re passing it off to younger coaches,” Pitman’s head coach Jeff Hayes said with a chuckle.
The Pride’s chances at repeating last season’s success are very good. Ten of their top 12 players are seniors and the other two are juniors — a lineup of talent and experience. Michael Davis, Mike Lazar, and Marcos Boutros are back as Pitman’s top three this season and have already helped the Pride handedly defeat both Golden Valley and Merced High. The Pride expects their early success to continue through the season.
“We take every match as it comes to us. We don’t overlook anyone but it’s always with the mind set of staying strong for playoffs. Our focus already, two matches in, is what we can do to use this match for playoffs,” Hayes said. “We’ve had a lot of winning over the past eight or nine years.”
As for Turlock, it also boasts an experienced roster. Only two kids from last season’s team are gone, giving coach Alaniz developed talent to work with. Scott Gray, Heath Rojas, Kemi Asgil, and Bryce Brenda have all returned, helping Turlock defeat Buhach Colony and Atwater High as they eye the cross-town matchup down the road.
“We got to keep improving. Most of our kids don’t take lessons but they pick it up real quick,” Alaniz said. “We just want to do the best we can, go out and compete. Maybe win a league championship.”
As in years past, Turlock and Pitman are projected to be the main contenders for the CCC championship this season and Davis, Lazar, Boutros and Gray are arguably the top four singles players in the CCC.
Pitman’s and Turlock’s Tuesday games were cancelled due to rain but they will play on Thursday against Buhach and Merced, respectively, barring another rainy day in the Valley.