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Short-handed Dawgs advance to finals at Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II tourney
Ceres High boys finish season with 30-2 overall record
Ceres Highs varsity boys tennis team finished second at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II Tournament, posted a 30-2 overall record and captured the WAC title under head coach Bryan Hardens guidance (pictured right). - photo by Dale Butler

Ceres High School's varsity boys tennis team brought home a second-place plaque from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II Championships last week.

Bulldog players also received runner-up patches for their lettermen jackets.

The Bulldogs compiled a 3-1 record at the 21-team event.
Vying for its first-ever blue banner, Ceres High fell short of its goal.

"In our area, nobody realizes how difficult it is to get to the section finals in tennis," Bulldogs head coach Bryan Harden said. "We were feeling like the team of destiny. We were on such a roll. We beat a lot of good teams this year. I can't be upset. We have nothing to be ashamed of. This by far is the best boys team we've ever had."

Ceres High, which successfully defended its Western Athletic Conference title with a perfect 12-0 this past month, compiled a 30-2 record this year.

The Bulldogs went 20-2 and placed first in league play (11-1) in 2012.

Ceres High has won 50 of 54 matches since last season.

"I couldn't be more excited about what the kids did this season," Harden said. "It's been an amazing run. The boys stepped up to the competition. That's what I like about this team."

Shorthanded Ceres High lost 8-1 to Capital Valley Conference champion Bella Vista in the section finals on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs, competing without six starters who were sidelined for disciplinary reasons, had their 24-match winning streak snapped.

Ceres High dropped five of six singles and both doubles matches.

Bulldog standout Julio Ochoa defeated Scott Putty 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 in No. 1 singles play.

Chase Harden lost 6-4, 6-1 to Victor de Cos in No. 2 singles play.

Rene Cortes lost 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 to Gojko Gojkovich in No. 3 singles play.

Jose Ortega lost 6-1, 6-0 to Evan Harling in No. 4 singles play.

Jordan Mey lost 6-0, 6-3 to Cody Blanford in No. 5 singles play.

Jorge Ruiz lost 6-0, 6-0 to Jacob Lampl in No. 6 singles play.

Heath Adrian and Dennis Phommanlinh lost 6-0, 6-1 to Jovan Gojkovich and Drew Chapman.

Ceres High lost by forfeit at No. 2 and 3 doubles.

"I'm sure the kids weren't 100 percent focused," Harden said. "I wasn't. I'm still rattled. It's disappointing to end it this way. It was just too big of a hill to climb today. I would have loved to see how it played out. We would have had an opportunity to win. It would have been 5-4 or 4-5."

Visiting Ceres High edged Capital Athletic League champion Mira Loma 5-4 in the semifinals on May 7.

Ochoa defeated Edward Ni 6-1, 6-0 in No. 1 singles play.

Alick Liang defeated Alex Yulayeva 6-2, 6-4 in No. 2 singles play.

Gurman Bains defeated Manu Prakasam 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in No. 3 singles play.

Cortes defeated David Alecu 6-2, 6-1 in No. 5 singles play.

Adrian and Phommalinh defeated Karthik Raju and Steven Chang 6-1, 6-4 in No. 3 doubles play.

Host Ceres High knocked off Solano County Athletic Conference champ Benicia 5-4 on May 6.

Ochoa defeated Cooper Wright 6-2, 6-0 in No. 1 singles play.

Liang defeated Nimrit Walia 6-3, 6-3 in No. 2 singles play.

Bains defeated Jerico Tyler 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in No. 3 singles play.

Chase Harden defeated Brandon Posades 6-4, 6-4 in No. 4 singles play.

Trevor Brazil and Tim Lakomy defeated Tyler Lorz and Skylar Splinter 6-4, 6-4 in No. 1 doubles play.

Ceres High shut out Capital Valley Conference No. 3 seed Del Campo 9-0 on April 30.

"We had an unbelievable season," coach Harden said. "The kids stepped up. We can get so much better. If everything falls into place, we'll be the top team in the area next year."