In 2012, the Central California Conference girls’ tennis season saw a crazy year after Pitman High struggled with a 1-9 record, placing last in league, while Turlock High — at 15-4 — were co-champions with Merced in the CCC.
The Bulldogs struggled near the end of the year after they lost three of their final six games. Pitman’s first year head coach Doug Reimers went through a rough patch in the beginning of a new era, but he knows that in his second year things will be different.
“Last year the girls played very hard. We had to grow and nurture the competitive spirit,” Reimers said. “We lost three of our top six players from last year but now my juniors from last year that are seniors this year are ready to be competitive and they are challenging each other, they are ready to go out there and do their best, more-so than last year. They have an idea of what it is to go out on the courts and leave it all out there.”
Along with the help of their four juniors, Turlock feels confident they can repeat as CCC champs—only this time stand alone in the podium.
“Splitting the league title with Merced was nice, but three of our four losses came in the final six games and that hurt us, but I still felt we had a strong competitive team that gave it the best they could each match,” Turlock head coach Linda Bejaran said.
With the loss of six key seniors last season, the ‘Dogs bring in four seniors along six underclassmen with returners Jullian Temple, Madeline Hillis, Mila Johns, Lauren Carlson, Kayla Gilkison, Melissa Littlefield, and Courtnie Chan leading the way.
“I have high expectations for our team this year. The girls are hardworking and come out to play,” Bejaran said. “As a team they appreciate and understand the need to be in top shape and demonstrate this attitude at each practice and at each match. Our motto is that we may lose because we are out-matched, but not because we are out of shape.”
After posting a 2-2 record in the postseason last year the Pitman Pride’s future looked dazzling, but when the league matches started, the Pride fell nine out of 10 matches and ended in dead last in the CCC.
“I don’t think it was until towards the end of the season that the younger girls started to excel overall,” Reimers said. “We have a better competitive spirit. Now our kids are grinding it out and they are out there going after every single point and I don’t want to jinx things because we want to improve upon last year.”
The Pride also has one of the bigger teams in league with a total of 41 players on the roster, including half of the varsity squad returning for coach Reimers.
Leading the way will be number one Mackenzie Nordahl, after being number three last season and also Brianna Wheeler returns as the number two from last year. Vianca Soria and Yen Luu will be the number one doubles.
“I feel confident and strong that all our girls will do a great job and I am excited to see how they perform,” Reimers said. “I also must give a lot of credit to my assistant coach, Beth Acosta, who has really helped bring out the best in all these girls.”
Turlock’s next match will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday at home as they square off against Atwater.
Pitman will face off Golden Valley at home at 3 p.m. Thursday.