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Bulldog open season with big win
Ceres High School's varsity boys tennis program had a successful start to the Valley Oak League season.

In a matchup of teams expected to battle for the conference title, the Bulldogs handled visiting Oakdale 10.5-4.5 last Thursday.

"We want to win a league championship," Ceres High head coach Brian de la Porte said. "That's a big step in the right direction."

Luis Ochoa, Wilson Liang and Harman Bains combined to win nine singles matches.

Ochoa, the reigning VOL singles champion, swept Daniel Dunning, Jeremy Willinger and Ben Kirby by identical scores of 6-0.

Liang turned in the most surprising performance of the day when he easily defeated Dunning, Oakdale's top player, 6-2. Wilson didn't face much opposition while competing against Willinger (6-0) and Kirby (6-0).

Liang lost more than 10 pounds and honed his skills during the offseason.

"He moves so much better this year," de la Porte said. "He's so consistent. He's so smart. He gets to every ball. If he plays like that, we're tough."

Bains collected wins against Kirby (6-0), Willinger (6-1) and Dunning (7-5).

Raul Massie and Gurman Bains, Ceres High's No. 1 doubles team, secured a split. They beat Blake Dunn and Jared Firstbrook (10-4). Massie and Bains lost to Robby Earle and Paul Perrone (10-0).

Nick Serratos and Victor Cruz, the Bulldogs' No. 2 doubles team, lost to Earle and Perrone (10-2), and Dunn and Firstbrook (10-3). Serratos and Cruz are first-year players.

Gurman, a freshman, was on the receiving end of an ice-cold water bath following his first official varsity match.

"It's tradition," de la Porte said.

Ceres High finished behind Sonora (14-0), Manteca (11-3) and Oakdale (11-3) in the VOL standings with an 8-6 mark last year. The Bulldogs also failed to make the playoffs for the first time in three years.

"I think this is the year we'll finally win it (VOL championship)," said Ochoa, a third-year standout.

Wilson, Harman and Raul are fourth-year members.

Ceres High made a statement against Oakdale last week.

"We were really nervous before the match," Ochoa said. "Oakdale's one of our main rivals. I didn't know if we were going to win or not."

Added de la Porte: "It's a huge win."