A lot was at stake when Ceres High's and Central Valley's varsity girls tennis teams faced off this past week.
The Bulldogs secured the Western Athletic Conference's third and final playoff berth in thrilling fashion, edging the crosstown Hawks 5-4 on Thursday at Ceres High.
Central Valley won the previous two meetings by identical 5-4 scores.
"It's very gratifying," Ceres High first-year head coach Jack Lackey said. "I was skeptical about whether we could do it (win). We lost to them twice."
"I knew it was going to be close again," Central Valley head coach Mike Rodriguez said. "I thought we were going to pull it out."
The Bulldogs posted an 8-7 record on their way to a third-place finish in the WAC standings.
The Hawks (7-8) placed fourth in conference play.
"This is my first year coaching at Ceres High," Lackey said. "I thought it was going to be a rebuilding year. We beat every team at least once, except (undefeated) Los Banos. We gradually improved. I was hoping for more improvement."
"I thought we had a pretty good year for a new team," Rodriguez said. "We put ourselves in a good position as far as having a shot at playoffs. I saw a lot of improvement."
The Bulldogs won four of six singles and one of three doubles tilts while edging out the Hawks this past week.
"The last match of the day decided it," Lackey said.
Ceres High's Vivian Moreno stormed back for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Gianna Arce in No. 4 singles play to secure the team victory.
"She was losing pretty badly," Lackey said. "I kept encouraging her. She started becoming more consistent. She came through. That's what put us over the top."
Azia Brewster defeated Sue Dhillon 6-3, 6-0 in No. 3 singles play.
Bella Rosas defeated Mixtly Vega 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in No. 5 singles play.
Shania Evans defeated Daniela Yepez 6-0, 6-2 in No. 5 singles play.
Camille Vega and Harmen Bahia defeated Jocelyn Rodriguez and Nayeli Castellanos 6-3, 6-2 in No. 2 doubles play.
Sarah Cuevas and Morgan Bejaran lost 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 to Yesinia Bernal-Lareos and Abigail Martinez in No. 1 doubles play.
Ariel Coria and Kayla Sierras lost 6-0, 7-5 to Elisabeth Valdez and Priscilla Sanchez in No. 3 doubles play.
Andria Esho lost 0-6, 6-1, 6-1 to Claudia Martinez in No. 1 singles play.
Dominique Koeurn lost 6-1, 6-1 to Lupita Becerra in No. 2 singles play.
The Hawks competed shorthanded against the Bulldogs.
Adrianna Escobedo, Central Valley's No. 3 singles player, was out of town.
"Everybody was playing up a spot," Rodriguez said.
Ceres High has advanced to the postseason eight out the past 10 years.
"I have a great group of young ladies," Lackey said. "They work really hard."
Central Valley amassed a 20-4 record and qualified for the playoffs twice the previous two seasons.
"We're young," Rodriguez said. "It's definitely looking positive for the future if everybody comes back."