Ceres High’s and Central Valley’s girls tennis programs both have new head coaches.
The Bulldogs will be led by Vince Vega as Brandon Moring stepped down to serve as an assistant varsity football coach.
The Hawks will be led by former Central Valley players Alexis Villa and Nimrat Chahal. Longtime coach Mike Rodriguez resigned to spend more time with his family.
“Coaching and teaching at the same high school I went to is a cool experience,” said Chahal, a 2015 CV grad and first-year U.S. History instructor at his alma mater. “I can relate to the kids.”
Central Valley returns nine players from last year’s team, including Angie Medrano (Sr.), Lesly Rivas (Sr.), Samantha Perez-Mendez (Sr.), Kaitlyn Teng (Sr.), Lliria Lira (Jr.), Lizeth Cazarez (So.), Alondra Robles (Sr.), Lliana Guzman (Sr.) and Marlene Jaquez (Sr).
The Hawks have five newcomers in Jasleen Kaur (So.), Analy Gomez (Sr.), Giselle Mendez (Sr.), Aleena Higle (Fr.) and Brianna Olson (Fr.).
Jessica Saini, Harman Kaur, Malina Keomuangchanh, Alika Victorino, Navreet Pattar, Leslie Bobadilla, Rinah Dulay, Taleia Lopez and Dailyn Melchner were lost to graduation.
Medrano, Rivas, Perez-Mendez, Teng, Lira and Cazarez will log playing time at singles.
Robles, Guzman, Jaquez, Gomez, Kaur, Mendez, Higle and Olson will contribute at doubles.
“It’s going to be a rebuilding year,” said Chahal, an assistant coach with the Hawks from 2017-21. “We have a lot of returners with not a lot of match experience. I don’t know how good we’re going to be. I just want the girls to have fun, play hard and compete.”
Ceres High returns seven players from a season ago, including Gurleen Kaur (So.), Alexa Sandoval (Sr.), Jelaine Esguerra (Sr.), Yasmin Pinedo-Lopez (Jr.), Camila Orellana (So.), Isabella Gutierrez (Jr.) and Zainab Nazair (Sr.).
Analiz Angulo (Jr.), Monica Cendejas (Sr.), Jayda Bryant (Jr.), Maria Garcia (Sr.), Nerisha Singh (Fr.) and Liset Renteria (Jr.) are newcomers.
The Bulldogs lost six players to graduation, including Gurmannet Bahia, Valerie Raya, Victoria Ochoa, Kensey Gallardo, Melissa Villegas and Lilia Barragan.
Villa and Chahal take over a program that finished 72-65, enjoyed five winning seasons and secured four postseason berths under Rodriguez’s guidance from 2010-22.
The Hawks qualified for the playoffs in 2018, 2017, 2015 and 2014.
“Mike was the face of CV tennis,” Chahal said. “He did an awesome job. The best part about Rodriguez was his relationship building. The kids really liked him. Hopefully, we’re able to mimic that. The girls understand we care and we’re there for them. We’ll build the program back up just like he did. It will happen. We work hard.”
Central Valley compiled a 1-13 record on its way to a last-place finish in the CCC standings this past fall.
“I’m not worried about wins and losses the first half of league,” Chahal said. “They have to get their feet wet playing varsity tennis. We’re going to compete as hard as we can. We’re trying to get the girls to fall in love with tennis. Our best years, we had girls that played on their own time. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got back to the playoffs in a couple years. It’s not going to be easy.”
Ceres High (1-13) tied for last place in the 2021 Western Athletic Conference standings with Pacheco.
The Bulldogs finished last in the WAC South Division (0-9-1) under Michelle Casey’s guidance in 2020.
Led by Moring, Ceres High had the second-best team in the WAC (11-3) and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in 2018.
The Bulldogs experienced success during Casey’s first year as head coach in 2019. Ceres High took third in conference play (9-5) and secured its second consecutive postseason berth.