By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ceres High varsity boys tennis freshman standout Julio Ochoa grinded out a 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 win against Patterson junior Sterling Ramirez in the finals of the Western Athletic Conference Singles Championships on Saturday at Pacheco High School.

Ochoa and Ramirez were seeded first and second, respectively.

"I'm happy with what I accomplished," Julio said. "Coach (Bryan Harden) has been very helpful. He teaches me strategies."

Ochoa followed in the footsteps of older siblings Luis and Marifer.

Luis claimed back-to-back Valley Oak League titles (2010, 2009).

Marifer captured the WAC girls crown (2010) her freshman year.

"I expect to do as good as my brother and sister," Julio said.

Added Luis: "Hopefully, he can win it all four times."

Ochoa compiled a 2-1 record against Ramirez this year.

The third meeting was a see-saw battle.

Julio won the first set in dominant fashion.

Ramirez thoroughly outplayed Ochoa in the second set to force a tiebreaker. Sterling took the first five games.

"Julio stopped keeping the ball deep and up," Harden said. "He wasn't totally focusing."

"I let him attack more," Ochoa said. "I changed my game in the third set. I decided to play more aggressive."

Ramirez fought off four match points in the final set. Tied at 5-all, Ochoa won two straight games to secure the victory.

"It was a dogfight," Harden said. "They both played good tennis. Julio's got to get better."

Alfredo and Lupita, Julio's parents, attended the match. Luis and Marifer were also there.

"They were rooting for me," Julio said. "It motivated me."

Julio had a 13-1 record in WAC play.

He won all four of his matches at the league tournament.

Ochoa beat Patterson's John Minton (6-0, 6-2), and Central Catholic's Garrett Ardis (6-1, 6-1) and Justin Chavez (6-0, 6-0).

Ceres High teammates Alick Liang and Chase Harden both finished in the top 8.

Alick lost 0-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 to third-seeded Cory Purser of Los Banos in the quarterfinals. Liang won the first nine games. He blew a 3-0 lead in the second set.

"For whatever reason, Alick couldn't keep his focus," coach Harden said. "You got to give the other kid credit."

Liang defeated Los Banos' Sjard Endom 6-2, 6-2 in the first round.

Chase defeated Pacheco's Josh Hernandez 6-2, 6-1.

He lost 6-1, 6-1 to Ramirez.

"I still feel we have three of the top four players in the league," Bryan said.

Liang earned a measure of redemption while teaming up with Gurman Bains at the WAC doubles tournament.

The top-seeded duo didn't have to settle for runner-up honors this year.

Liang and Bains compiled a 4-0 record en route to a first-place finish.

"They're just really good players," coach Harden said. "Alick can put so much pressure on you. Gurman volleys well and can put things away."

Alick and Gurman defeated Livingston's Cruz Trenado and Jacob Mercado 6-4, 6-3 in the finals.

Liang and Bains also collected wins against Pacheco, Los Banos and Central Catholic.

"The scary part is they really didn't play their best tennis," Bryan said.

Chase Harden and senior Victor Pimentel finished in the top 8 while teaming up for the first time.

Harden and Pimentel defeated Central Valley's Alexis Villa and Alex Hernandez 6-1, 6-4 in the opening round.

Chase and Victor lost 6-1, 6-0 to third-seeded John Minton and James Shugan of Patterson in the quarterfinals.

"We had a pretty productive two-day tournament," coach Harden said. "My team dominated."