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After runner-up finish in league, Rausa favored to take over VOL

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Sierra High's Kevin Rausa hopes to become Valley Oak League champion in singles tennis next year after a runner-up finish in the conference tournament in 2010.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED June 30, 2010 2:51 a.m.
For two years it was Luis Ochoa of Ceres High and everybody else in the Valley Oak League.

The best of the rest in 2010 was Sierra’s Kevin Rausa.

But the door will be wide open for Rausa with Ochoa now graduated and the reigning VOL team co-champion Ceres Bulldogs moving into the Western Athletic Conference next year.

He is naturally the favorite going into his senior campaign. Nothing is a given, but the 2011 singles title is his for the taking.

“I just got to want it more, work harder and mature,” Rausa said.

The Bulletin’s All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year dominated almost every match he was in during league play except for the three against Ochoa, who is heading to JUCO tennis powerhouse Fresno City College after a 33-1 his senior year.

In their final meeting, Ochoa coasted 6-2, 6-2 in the VOL Singles Tournament finals.

“My goal was just to give Luis a challenge, maybe beat him,” Rausa said. “He’s just a great player. He has a good all-around game. He was unstoppable — like Superman.”

Rausa ended up faring better than his chief league rival in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Singles Tournament in Roseville.

Ochoa had a tough draw and was eliminated in the first round. Rausa, meanwhile, was the only section qualifier out of the VOL, be it in singles or doubles, to win at least one match.

The unseeded Rausa defeated Vanden’s Joseph Yates 6-4, 6-3 but was routed 0-6, 0-6 by No. 2 Tanner Schmute of tennis juggernaut Oak Ridge.

The more seasoned players from the Sacramento area have long ruled tennis in the section, so for Rausa to pick up at least one victory was something he could hang his hat on.

The experience of playing in the section playoffs was an eye-opener for Rausa, who is now more motivated because of it. He is currently fine-tuning his skills by competing in a summer league in Modesto.

“It’s just a different world,” Rausa said of playing against some of the best from up north. “It seems like they’ve been playing tennis their entire lives, and I started playing after the seventh grade. But I was proud with what I accomplished.”
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