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Bulldogs striving for second straight conference title
CV looks to fourth consecutive playoff berth
Julio Ochoa will star at No. 1 singles on Ceres Highs varsity boys tennis team for the second straight season. Ochoa won the Western Athletic Conference title his freshman year.

Ceres High's and Central Valley's varsity boys tennis teams have faced off 12 times since 2006-07.

The Bulldogs have never lost to the Hawks.

"We'd like to win," Central Valley head coach Mike Rodriguez said. "I don't know if it's going to happen. They have more experience."

Ceres High will look to continue its dominance this season.

Ceres High compiled a program-best 20-2 overall record, captured the Western Athletic Conference title (11-1) and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the third consecutive year in 2012.

The Bulldogs should be just as strong this year thanks to their experience and depth.

Ceres High brings back seven of 11 starters from a season ago, including Julio Ochoa (So.), Gurman Bains (Sr.), Alick Liang (Jr.), Chase Harden (So.), Trevor Brazil (Sr.), Sergio Zepeda (Sr.) and David Cisneros (Sr.).

"It's hard to say how things will play out," Bulldogs head coach Bryan Harden said. "Anything can happen. Hopefully, the kids perform like I expect them to. We just got to stay humble and keep working."

Ochoa had a memorable freshman season while starring at No. 1 singles for the Bulldogs,

Julio beat WAC co-MVP Sterling Ramirez of Patterson 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 in the finals of the conference tournament. Julio had a 13-1 record in conference play. Ochoa followed in the footsteps of two older siblings. Luis and Marifer combined to win three singles titles and four MVP awards with Ceres High.

"He's progressed quite a bit since last year," coach Harden said. "I personally think he's one of the five best players in the area."

Bains, Liang and Harden all earned first-team, all-league honors.

Alick won all 12 of his matches at No. 3 singles during the WAC regular season.

Gurman (No. 2) and Chase (No. 4) finished 10-2 and 9-3, respectively.

Trevor, Sergio and David were named to the WAC Second Team.

Zepeda and Cisneros won 9 of 10 matches at No. 2 doubles.

Brazil and 2012 CHS grad Esteban de la Torre had a 7-3 record in No. 1 doubles play.

Returnees Jose Ortega (So.), Rene Cortes (So.), Juan Jimenez (So.), Dennis Phommalinh (So.), Shane Kumar (Jr.) and Heath Adrian (Jr.) will also contribute this year.

Central Valley has no place to go but up as it placed sixth in the WAC standings (2-10) a season ago.

"It's going to be a learning year," Rodriguez said. "We have some young guys. It will be interesting to see what we do in a year or two if these guys stick it out."

The Hawks' top returners are Alexis Zigala (Jr.), Alexis Villa (So.), Alex Hernandez (Sr.) and Edgar Castillo (So.).

Oscar Ornales (Jr.) played doubles for Central Valley during his freshman year.

"We'll be a middle-of-the-pack team," Rodriguez said.

The Hawks have yet to experience a breakthrough season.

"The top tennis programs have kids playing year-round," Rodriguez said. "A lot of our kids come out just during tennis season. They play other sports."