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Gray comes up short in semi finals
Pitman doubles make it to second round
tennis pic1
Turlocks Scott Gray displays his forehand during the second round of the Section singles tournament. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

League singles champion Scott Gray of Turlock High had high hopes for this year’s Sac-Joaquin Section tournament, but a rematch with Napa High’s Stewart Miller in the semi-final round didn’t go Gray’s way.

 Both the Section singles and doubles tennis tournaments were held this past week at Brenda’s Athletic Club in Turlock and California State University, Stanislaus. Pitman High was represented by Morcos Butros and Michael Davis in the singles competition while Turlock High’s lone representative was CCC champion Gray.  The Pride also had the team of Michael Lazar and Luis Velasquez in the doubles competition.

In the first round of the singles tournament Butros was matched with Bijan Origel of Modesto High, Davis was matched with Kevin Valentine of Ponderosa High and Gray was matched with David Sievers of Lincoln High.

Davis and Butros both had trouble in the first round and fell in straight sets to their opponents. Valentine cruised past Davis 6-0, 6-1, as Origel kept Butros off balance with a 6-3, 6-0 performance. Gray had no problem sending Sievers home early in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, as he continued to utilize the weapons that earned him a league title.

Gray and Valentine found themselves on opposite sides of the tennis court in the second round in what turned out to be a slightly more challenging match for Gray. The first set was a highly contested one but Gray managed to claim it 6-4. The second set was not as competitive. Gray found his rhythm and stopped Valentine 6-2 to move onto the semi-finals for the second time in two years.

Gray found himself facing a familiar opponent in the semi-finals in Miller. A year ago Gray and Miller competed in the Section singles tournament where Gray walked away as the victor. This year was different though; as Gray had problems with Miller’s heavy top spin shots. Gray was unable to win a game and fell in straight sets 6-0, 6-0.

“His accomplishments speak for themselves, he has nothing to be ashamed about,” Turlock’s head coach Juan Alaniz said. “He has had a great career so far.”

In the doubles competition, Lazar and Velasquez faced Christian McCaig and Gary Shmorgan of Modesto High in the first round. The Pitman duo took the first set, 6-3, before Modesto’s team reversed roles in the second set for a 6-3 victory of their own. The Pride moved onto the second round after another 6-3 set where they faced Avery Moore and Vince Verspieren of Jesuit High. Like the first round match it took three sets to determine the winner, but unfortunately Lazar and Velasquez were not on the winning side. They lost the first set 6-4, won the second set 6-3, and dropped the final set 6-3.