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Ochoa, Harden propel Ceres High varsity boys tennis program to record heights
Chase Harden (left) and Julio Ochoa pose for a picture with head coach Bryan Harden following Ceres Highs 5-4 win over Manteca in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III finals. The Bulldogs built a dynasty in boys tennis over the past four years thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of Julio, Chase and Bryan. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Principal Linda Stubbs praised the play of Ceres High's varsity boys tennis team during the school's graduation ceremony earlier this month at Bulldog Stadium.

The Bulldogs enjoyed a storybook season this past spring.
Ceres High also put the finishing touches on a memorable four-year run.

Four-year standouts Julio Ochoa and Chase Harden played pivotal roles as the Bulldogs reached unprecedented heights.

"Our friendship goes way back," Ochoa said. "I met Chase when I was eight or nine when we found out we were going to play high-school tennis together. We were really excited. I didn't think we'd accomplish this much. We've worked hard."

"They started our run of dominance," said Bryan Harden, Bulldogs' head coach and Chase's father.

With Ochoa and Harden leading the way, Ceres High amassed a 106-5 overall record from 2012-15.

The Bulldogs made history by capturing their first-ever section banner this year. Ceres High edged Manteca 5-4 for the inaugural Division-III championship.

The Bulldogs went 27-0 on the season and claimed their fourth straight Western Athletic Conference title (third in a row with a perfect 12-0 mark) thanks to the play of Ochoa, Harden and fellow veterans Rene Cortes, Jose Ortega, Dennis Phommalinh, Manny Jimenez, Julian Rodriguez and Jorge Ruiz. Ceres High's reeled off 43 straight wins in WAC play dating back to the 2012 season.

"The sheer amount of wins we've collected over the years is pretty cool," Chase Harden said. "I'm not surprised. We've had really good players throughout the years. Everybody knew when we got on the court it was all business. Off the court, we always had a lot of fun with each other."

"Being able to experience that type of success is very special," Ochoa said. "It's pretty amazing. When I first heard about the whole idea about 100-plus wins, it sounded pretty good. That's a lot of matches we had to play. Everyone had to focus. The reason we were able to achieve it is all the work we put in."

"The bond the players shared with each other this year's special," Bryan Harden said.