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Turlock edges Merced, despite missing No. 1 Lima
Turlock's Shayan Niakan and Danny Malek represented the Bulldogs as the No. 2 doubles team in Thursday's CCC win over Merced. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

The Turlock High boys varsity tennis team is off to a 2-0 start in league after topping Central California Conference foe Merced High in their first meeting of the year, 6-3.

“Honestly, I knew we would still win but Merced is not a bad team, they played tough and did well,” said Turlock head coach Jack Schneider.

Turlock was without their top singles player Alex Lima on Thursday, forcing everyone else to move up a spot.

“All our doubles were a bit shaken up today since we had to mix and match and move everyone, if you lose your No. 1, then it pushes everyone down but I wasn’t as worried,” said Schneider. “I just didn’t expect such a tough match from Merced, but they are competitors.”

Davis Griffin served as the No. 1 singles player for the Bulldogs on Thursday and was representing well after notching a 6-1, 6-2 win over Colin Rabago of Merced.

No. 3 singles player Ryan Asai won his match in straight sets (6-4, 6-2). No. 2 Marco Andres and No. 6 Kellen Ireland also clinched win on the singles side as the Bulldogs took a 4-2 lead heading into the doubles play.

As soon as the game concluded, the recent ice hockey State Champion Ireland, who is part of the Golden State Elite Eagles based out of Dublin, left for practice in the Bay Area.

 “I mean Kellen is so happy all the time and has so much energy, just nonstop, his energy is crazy overall, he is really hyped up with a hockey mentality,” said Schneider about Ireland. “He is a fighter, to go to practice about two hours from here after finishing his match is intense, he's a beast.”

Ireland topped Issac Lo, 6-2, 5-7 and 6-1.

At the doubles side, Turlock won two of the three matches after each match went into a third set.

“We need to own the net at the doubles because if you do that then you control the match so they are starting to do a lot better,” said Schneider. “Our goal is to win league. I mean we have the top two singles players in Alex [Lima] and Davis [Griffin] and we have Ryan Asai, so it will be interesting.”

The next match for Turlock will be on the road at Buhach Colony at 3 p.m. Thursday.