Turlock High’s Scott Gray became the first Bulldog boys tennis player to win the Central California Conference singles tournament three years in a row after his 6-2, 6-3 victory over Pitman High’s Morcos Boutros on Thursday.
“I was not expecting it, but I was hoping,” Gray said of his championship win.
After a somewhat rough 2012 season, which included a strained elbow and several weeks of missed competition, Gray flew through the singles tournament, defeating all of his opponents in straight sets.
“It can mess with your mind,” Gray said of his time away from the court. “Tennis is all mental. It’s hard to recover, but I kept my mind focused and pulled it out.”
“I’ve always believed in his skills and his abilities,” Turlock’s head coach Juan Alaniz said. “He’s a very gifted young man. He has impressive touch and control on the ball.”
Gray defeated Boutros last season during a league match but exhibited a higher level of control during Thursday’s championship match. Boutros, who entered the singles tournament with an unblemished record, had difficulty matching Gray’s movement and neutralizing his many weapons.
“When you’re playing a player that can move out of position you’re not going to be able to take a match,” Pitman’s head coach Jeff Hayes said.
“I just feel extremely lucky that I was able to perform at the right time,” Gray said.
With his third CCC singles championship behind him Gray, who also finished as the runner up his freshman year, is now focused on the upcoming Section tournaments. Gray, Boutros, and Michael Davis of Pitman have all qualified for the singles Section Tournament, which will be held at Brenda’s Athletic Club in Turlock on Thursday, and will also take part in the Team Section Tournament that begins on Monday.
For Gray, consistent practice with skilled hitters will be a top priority as he prepares for his fourth Section appearance. Last season he finished in the final four after losing in the semi-finals.
“I’m just hoping to make a good showing,” Gray said. “I’m not concerned with the end result, I just want to feel like I’ve played good.”
Boutros and Davis, who was named the CCC’s Singles MVP, also plan on putting forth their best effort as they try to end their high school tennis careers with a good showing at the Section Tournament.
“I think we have a good shot if they come prepared,” Hayes said.