Turlock High's Ryan Asai went into Tuesday's Central California Conference singles tournament with high hopes. The Bulldog boasted an undefeated record heading into the tournament, but met his match in Merced's Juan Ciudad in the semifinal round.
Asai was the only one of the six Turlock and Pitman players competing on Tuesday to make it to the semifinal round.
“The league overall is not the strongest, but it's decent,” said Turlock head coach Jack Schneider. “You still see a few top competitors like Cesar of Golden Valley and Juan of Merced.”
Pitman left the stage early as two of its singles players lost in the opening round.
The Pride's number one singles player, Devan Jantz, lost in the first round, 2-6 and 0-6, and Max Martell also picked up a loss to Merced's Juan Ciudad, 0-6 and 2-6.
The most successful Pride player was Nick Gianforte, one of Schneider's students, who won his first match, 6-3 and 6-1, before losing to Ciudad in the next round, 0-6 and 1-6.
Turlock's number one singles player in Alex Lima picked up his first match victory with two easy 6-0 wins, but that was followed by his toughest opponent and match yet—Asai.
After Asai won out in the opening round, 6-2 and 6-1, over Buhach's Mark Hendrickson, both were set for a friendly yet intense quarterfinal match between the two Bulldogs.
During the match Schneider mentioned how he did no coaching in that match whatsoever for either guy, he just had that 'let them play' mentality.
“For this level it wasn't pretty for Ryan because he needs to work on strokes and has trouble with confidence and Alex needs to stop trying to do too much,” said Schneider. “At first Ryan was joking around and acting very confident that he would make Alex work.”
Asai made his teammate work harder than he thought.
Lima topped Asai 6-2 in the first set then Asai picked up the pace and bested Lima, 6-3 and 6-3.
“It was a very long match; very tight match,” said Schneider.
Asai then fell to Ciudad, 3-6 and 1-6, in the semifinal round.
The number two singles player for Turlock, sophomore Davis Griffin, won his first match, 7-6 and 6-3, but then lost in the next round.
The singles finale is set to begin before the CCC doubles tournament starts at 9 a.m. Thursday.