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Hawks make tennis history
CV defeats CHS in girls tennis for first time, ends 15-matching losing streak
Central Valleys Celest Lepe, pictured above, and Ayme Nguyen lost their No. 1 doubles tilt, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, to Ceres Highs Janet Jimenez and Jolyce Vega on Oct. 22. The visiting Hawks made history by winning the team competition, 5-4. CV beat CHS for the first time in program history, ending a 15-match losing streak. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley High School's varsity girls tennis team nearly knocked off crosstown-rival Ceres High for the first time in program history on Sept. 26.

The visiting Bulldogs rallied for a 5-4 victory and improved their all-time record versus the Hawks to 15-0.

Central Valley made history on Oct. 22 as it ended a seven-year losing streak against host Ceres High with a 5-4 win.

"All streaks have to end eventually," said Mike Rodriguez, fifth-year head coach of the Hawks. "I'm just glad I was around when it happened. It's pretty cool."

Princess Pe and Chelsea Flores, Central Valley's No. 2 doubles tandem, clinched the team victory. The first-year tennis players defeated Ceres High's Bryanna Lopez and Stephanie Garcia in three sets, 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.

"There wasn't much of a reaction," Rodriguez said. "I don't think Chelsea or Princess knew about the streak. I didn't tell them. I didn't want to put pressure on them."

Pe and Flores erased a 6-2 deficit in the second-set tiebreaker.

"I still can't believe they came back," Rodriguez said. "It was crazy. We were one point away from losing that match and the overall match. I was getting a little nervous. They got it together at the right moment. Momentum is definitely a powerful thing in sports."

Pe and Flores improved their doubles record to 8-1.

"They complement each other well," Rodriguez said. "Princess is a really good athlete. She covers a lot of the court. Chelsea hits the ball really well. She's come a long way."

Samantha Sotomayor, Vanessa Monroy, Ali Martinez, Sandra Luna and Teresa Diaz all played a role in Central Valley's long-awaited victory over Ceres High.

Sotomayor and Monroy defeated Dominique Koeurn and Jalani Blankenship 6-1, 6-3 in No. 3 doubles.

Martinez defeated Gabriella Blandino 6-3, 6-0 in No. 4 singles play.

Luna defeated Jasmine Esparza 6-3, 6-2 in No. No. 5 singles play.

Diaz defeated Justine Vega 6-4, 6-4 in No. 6 singles play.

Emely Amaya lost 6-0, 6-0 to Marifer Ochoa in No. 1 singles play.

Naomi Torres lost 7-5, 6-1 to Angelica Slater in No. 2 singles play.

Jadah Jackson lost 6-1, 6-1 to Bianca DeAnda in No. 3 singles play.

Celest Lepe and Ayme Nguyen lost 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 to Janet Jimenez and Jolyce Vega in No. 1 doubles play.

"I knew it was going to be close again," Rodriguez said. "We're so close talent-wise. We can play them 10 times and it would probably be 5-5."

Central Valley edged out Ceres High in front of a sparse crowd last week.

"A lot of our girls left," Rodriguez said. "They had other engagements they had to go to. It would have been really nice if everyone was here. I was the only one watching."

Central Valley and Ceres High tied for fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings with 5-7 records.

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

The Bulldogs will miss the playoffs for the first time in six years.

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

"We've definitely come a long way," Rodriguez said. "When I first started coaching here five years ago, there wasn't an interest in the sport. We get 20-25 girls out here a year. There's definitely a lot more interest."

Central Valley should contend for a playoff berth next season. The Hawks return all but one of their key players. Plus Central Catholic will relocate to the Valley Oak League as part of conference realignment.

"We're pretty young," Rodriguez said. "We only lose one senior. CC's leaving to the VOL. That opens up a spot."