Two weeks ago Turlock High dropped its first match of the season against Merced High, 5-4. Though the loss was a shock to the Bulldogs’ system, it was an understandable outcome considering two key players were missing from the lineup.
Turlock entered Tuesday’s home matchup against Golden Valley High eager to get back into the winner’s column and keep its dream of a Central California Conference championship alive, be it outright or shared. Tuesday provided a case of déjà vu, however, as two Bulldogs were again missing, Ceasar Lucio— absent for the second time—and Martin Castorena in a surprise, last minute absence.
As was the case in their last match against the Bears, Turlock fell 5-4 against the Cougars.
“If you have one guy missing it changes the entire line-up,” Turlock’s head coach Juan Alaniz said. “They played admirably but a couple wins we were counting on didn’t come through.”
Turlock struggled to adjust to the changes and dropped the sixth singles match that Castorena would have played as well as the third doubles match that Lucio would have been in. But even though the holes in Turlock’s roster hurt its chances at victory, an untimely injury to number two singles player Aldair Lima was the death nail.
Lima, who was leading 4-0 in the first set, fell and hurt his wrist. He continued to play and finished his match, but the injury clearly affected his performance.
“As soon as he got hurt he couldn’t grip the racquet,” Alaniz said.
While Turlock struggled in some matchups, a handful of Bulldogs managed to walk away with individual victories. Heath Rojas won his number three singles match, Alex Lima won his number five singles match, the team of Kristofer Melgard and Johnny Brenda won the number one doubles match, and the team of Daniel Saldana and Alan Trelles won the number three doubles match.
Now, with a CCC title all but out of reach, Turlock is looking towards the post-season. There are still three matches before playoffs, though, the first of which will be played at home against Atwater on Thursday.
“It’s really frustrating because we we’re so close,” Alaniz said.