Pitman and Turlock high's boys tennis teams each battled in the Central California Conference on Thursday, one notching a win and one a loss, but both teams are now equal in league standings as they prepare to face each other next week.
Pitman defeated El Capitan 6-3, while Turlock was shocked by Buhach Colony on the road in a 6-3 loss to give both sides an equal 4-1 CCC record.
“That was our first league loss in three years,” said Turlock head coach Jack Schneider. “Now, we have to regroup for Pitman on Tuesday.”
“They didn't field a third doubles team,” said Pitman head coach Jeff Hayes. “Our doubles played tough. I was impressed with Lat at No. 1 today. He lost, but it was close. He has been improving throughout the season.”
Lorenz Lat was the No. 1 singles player for the Pride after their regular No. 1 Andrew Rosario was out due to an illness, according to Hayes.
That didn't matter as the Pride won three singles and three of their doubles matches.
“We go into every match with the mindset to win,” said Hayes. “But there are no expectations. I'm impressed with Merced's team this year. They don't have a lot of experience, but they are driven. Now, we are looking forward to the match with Turlock. Looking at the scores so far, they look to be the best team in the league.”
Turlock was certainly the favorites and riding a win streak in league matches, but the conditions made it challenging against a scrappy BC team.
“It was a bad combination of a lot of things. If we play them 10 times, we beat them nine times but it will be different in our court,” said Schneider. “It was tough with the slow courts, hard to get a winner, guys were dying out there, not used to playing that many long points so it will be interesting now.”
The wind made all matches even keel.
“It was pretty windy conditions there and they just resurfaced court and it was really slow, hard to get the ball in. We won first set in all matches, everyone was rolling,” said Schneider. “When we get them at our court, the ball travels better, they have a lot of grinders and the wind took away precision. We had to be conservative.”
The Bulldogs lost four of three set matches overall. They also fell in all doubles matches.
“Normally, we don't have three set matches. They were so long. There were six of nine matches that went three sets, there were battles all the way,” said Schneider. “We will mix the doubles since it has been a liability, you can't count on them every single match to win it all, puts too much pressure on our singles guys, very unusual.”
Turlock, Pitman and Buhach Colony are now all tied for first place in the CCC at 4-1.
“We better beat Pitman now, if we go 5-1 after the first half of league then that is solid,” Schneider added. “I think we match up well with them.”
Pitman and Turlock will square off from the Bulldogs’ court starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday.