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Hawks, Bulldogs expect to contend for postseason berths
CHS, CV return host of experience from last season
Central Valley High Schools varsity girls tennis team returns a wealth of experience from last year, including singles player Jadah Jackson. - photo by DALE BUTLER/Courier file photo

Central Valley's and Ceres High's varsity girls tennis teams both have high expectations for the 2014 season.

The Hawks and Bulldogs return a wealth a talent from last year.

"We should be competing for a playoff spot," Ceres High head coach Jack Jacques said. "It will be a disappointment if we are not."

"All the other programs at our school seem to be making progress," Central Valley leader Mike Rodriguez said. "We've never made the playoffs before. We've gotten close a couple times. This year will be our best chance to get there. On paper, we're experienced. We got a lot of seniors. If we don't play to our potential, it would be disappointing."

Central Valley and Ceres High tied for fourth place in the 2013 Western Athletic Conference standings (5-7).

The top three teams advance to the postseason. Los Banos, Central Catholic and Patterson secured berths last season.

The Bulldogs missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.

Ceres High edged out Central Valley for the WAC's final postseason spot in 2012.

The Hawks have never participated in the playoffs.

Central Catholic relocated to the Valley Oak League as part of conference realignment.

"I think the league is wide open this year," Rodriguez said. "Central Catholic left to the VOL. Patterson lost some key players from last year. We'll be really competitive."

Central Valley's top returners are Emely Amaya (Sr.), Naomi Torres (Sr.), Jadah Jackson (Jr.), Sandra Luna Sr.), Teresa Diaz (Jr.), Celest Lepe (Jr.), Princess Pe (Jr.) and Chelsea Flores (Jr.).

Ali Martinez, the Hawks' No. 4 singles player in 2013, was lost to graduation.

Ceres High's top returners are Angelica Slater (Sr.), Bianca DeAnda (Sr.), Gabriella Blandino (Sr.), Janet Jimenez (Sr.), Juliana Rosas (Sr.) and Jalani Blankenship (Jr.).

"Based on last year's performance, Angelica should be our No. 1 singles player," Jacques said.

Slater will replace four-year star Marifer Ochoa.

Ochoa ranks No. 2 on Ceres High's all-time greatest girls tennis player list behind McKenzy Harden (class of 2010).

Marifer had a .906 winning percentage (58-6) in league.

She was a four-time Sac-Joaquin Section tournament and WAC finals participant.

Ochoa won two conference singles titles and three MVP awards.

"To be honest with you, I think it's going to impact us," Jacques said. "Everyone is going to have to dig a little deeper to get the job done. You can't replace a caliber of player like Marifer. She's a quality individual as well."

Central Valley also beat Ceres High for the first time in program history last season. The Hawks ended a seven-year, 15-match losing streak with a 5-4 victory.

"There's no pressure now," Rodriguez said.