Varsity girls tennis is underway in the Valley for Turlock and Pitman High, who compete in the always cutthroat Central California Conference and 2014 looks to be a great year for both schools.
Turlock High has owned the CCC for the last six years, capturing six consecutive CCC titles, and now they look to make it seven straight in 2014.
“We were undefeated last year, but we had to work hard at it. It was not easy but their hard work paid off last year,” said Turlock head coach Linda Bejaran. “Nothing is ever a given. I hope we can take number one again but I think the girls need to buckle down and really focus. I think we will have to work hard.”
Having won six straight titles in anything is nearly impossible to do but coach Bejaran’s strategy has always, well — worked.
“We try to maintain being humble and understanding at any time anything can happen, especially after having some close ones last season,” Bejaran said. “So I think that kept us humble, knowing you will not just go in and walk over everybody. We don’t take anybody lightly.”
The new season has brought up an ensemble of really talented players from the top of the Bulldog roster to the very last.
Turlock’s roster as of now features four strong returning players and are all challenging themselves to figure out who will be the number one, Bejaran said.
The four players consist of Mila Johns, Lauren Carlson, Rebekka Cripe and Courtnie Chan.
“I think we have a great chance to be successful again this year because we return six players who should help make our singles team very strong,” Bejaran said. “We have great attitudes and I am looking forward to working with these girls, they are very positive and they want to be here.”
Pitman comes off a better year in 2013, having barely missed their goal of reaching the postseason and 2014 looks as bright as ever for head coach Doug Reimers.
“Last year our girls had a fantastic season. We improved greatly from the previous year and were literally one match win away from a possible playoff spot. We came very close,” said Reimers. “We improved from the previous season.”
The Pride finished fourth in the CCC, barely losing to Golden Valley due to match points and unfortunately getting booted out of the playoff race.
Now in 2014, the year and goals are set to high standards for Reimers who says that this team could perhaps be the best he has brought together.
“This season we are deeper than we were at this point last year,” Reimers said. “I think we are stronger where we have lacked before. I think we will be more competitive in every match to really fight for every single point.”
Although the Pride lost their top three singles players from 2013, the new looking roster is really strong and should see a rotation from the top three players rotating throughout the year.
“All three of our top girls want to be number one and are fighting to be that number one and I think we might switch back and forth because I think the girls will constantly push each other,” said Reimers. “The girls will get better and improve week after week as the time goes on.”
Barbara Beasley, Sahemi Castorena and Macey Loomis should be the top three but don’t count out Yen Luu or Danei Aguilar-Franco to fight hard throughout the season for Reimers.
“Doubles will be interesting because a lot of our doubles girls move to singles and we lost our number one doubles team from last season who won every single match they played,” Reimers said. “I am hoping that with preseason matches we get the opportunity to fight on the court and to see who has the competitive edge to create a very deep team from one to 13.”
Competing in the CCC is possible but dethroning Turlock is a tough task to even talk about but it will create for a far more interesting season this fall.
“I am always concerned with Turlock High because they continue to produce an incredibly strong team, but our girls know how to play,” Reimers added. “Do I think we will win CCC? I’m not sure, but I think we are incredibly well prepared to continue to improve on our success from the last two years. I expect us to progress and be better than last year.”