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Bulldogs plan to maintain their tradition
Nolan McCaig will fill the No. 1 singles slot in the Ceres High varsity boys tennis teams starting lineup for the third year in a row. McCaig won 30 of 32 matches last season. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High School's varsity boys tennis team plans to maintain its winning tradition this spring.

The Bulldogs have a new leader and starting lineup.
Assistant Brandon Moring replaced longtime head coach Bryan Harden.

Julio Ochoa (singles), Chase Harden (singles), Rene Cortes (singles), Jose Ortega (singles), Manny Jimenez (doubles), Dennis Phommalinh (doubles), Jorge Ruiz (double) and Julian Rodriguez (doubles) were lost to graduation.

Alex Torres (doubles) opted to play baseball.

Manuel Lazcano (doubles) transferred to Central Valley.

"Our expectation is to win even with the lack of experience," Moring said. "The standard is the same. We have a reputation."

Ceres High made history in 2015 by winning its first-ever section title.

The Bulldogs edged the Manteca Buffaloes 5-4 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III crown.

Ceres High compiled a perfect 27-0 record, claimed its fourth consecutive Western Athletic Conference crown (third in a row with a perfect 12-0 record) and participated in the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.

"Last year's team was dominant in a way you don't see in sports," Moring said. "The kids know they're part of something special. We're going to try to maintain the tradition."

Ceres High brings back several key players from last year, including Nolan McCaig (Jr.), Bruno de la Torre (Sr.) and Charles Lo (Sr.).

Jorge Campos (So.), Donnavin Koeurn (So.), Christopher Padilla (So.) and Christian Pimentel (So.) also returned to the team.

The Bulldogs have won 42 straight conference matches dating back to the 2012 season.

"The kids know the expectations," Moring said. "I expect us to win the WAC title. It's not going to be easy."

McCaig brought home a second-place medal from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II Varsity Boys Tennis Championships last year. He (30-2) suffered just two losses on the season. Nolan captured his second straight WAC singles title and MVP award. He's won 59 of 62 matches over the past two years. McCaig has a perfect 29-0 record in conference play.

"His game has evolved," Moring said. "He's the best retriever I've seen at this level. He's added other facets to his game. His biggest improvement is his ability to play offense and put the ball away."

Moring was Harden's assistant coach the past two seasons.

"I played for him," Brandon said. "He taught me everything I know about the game. We're going to be aggressive. We're going to be gritty and fight for every point. That's our style. And we're going to try to win. That's our goal."