The Ceres High School girls tennis team’s streak of consecutive playoff appearances will end at two years this season.
Playoffs were canceled in an effort to allow student-athletes as much time as possible to play some matches during the 2020-21 COVID-19 shortened season.
High school athletics have been put on hold since mid-March when the statewide shutdown began in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus safety requirements, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance, must be followed.
“This year is different because of the COVID regulations,” second-year head coach Michelle Casey said. “We cannot cross over three counties. We will be in Merced County and Stanislaus County, but not San Joaquin County.”
“During practice, we wear masks the whole time and maintain social distancing,” she added. “During matches, the girls should wear their masks, however if they are overexerted, they may remove them during play. When the players are not in a match, they will wear their masks and social distance. Our Athletic Director, John Bussard, has made all the equipment and accessories adjustments necessary to meet all the Tennis Guidelines and COVID-19 Modifications for California Interscholastic Federation.”
Members of the Western Athletic Conference South, the Bulldogs will play home and away matches versus Central Valley, Johansen, Los Banos and Pacheco.
The conference has decided to not stage singles and doubles tournaments this year.
The Bulldogs secured their second straight playoff berth last fall under Casey’s guidance.
Third-place Ceres High (9-5) finished ahead of Beyer, Johansen, Lathrop, Pacheco and Grace Davis.
The Bulldogs had a total of 10 players on their roster as of Feb. 18, including Jasmine Bahia (Sr.), Victoria Rodriguez (Sr.), Lilia Barragan (Jr.), Kensey Gallardo Sanchez (Jr.), Yesenia Mendoza (Jr.), Valerie Raya (Jr.), Kimberly Rodriguez Estrada (Jr.), Taiya Smith (Jr.), Melissa Villegas (Jr.) and Isabella Gutierrez (Fr.).
Bahia, Mendoza and Raya are returners.
“Everyone else is new to the team,” Casey said. “No tennis experience.”
Bahia, a fourth-year player, has been named team captain.
“She is ASB President and in leadership club, as well as several other clubs,” Casey said. “She is a great example of a student-athlete.”
Bahia, Mendoza, Rodriguez, Rodrigues Estrada, Raya and Villegas are singles players.
Gallardo Sanchez, Barragan, Smith and Gutierrez will contribute at doubles.
“A successful season this year would be for the girls to gain experience in the sport and have fun,” Casey said.