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Buffs get top seed; Sierra in Division 4
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Manteca’s girls tennis team will get to defend its Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title but against a new and unfamiliar lineup of challengers.

Sierra, the Valley Oak League’s runner-up, looks forward to hosting its first-round in the first-ever Division IV tournament. 

The section team tournaments begin next Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Three years after introducing a third division to the postseason, the SJS has opened up a fourth while moving to enrollment-based brackets. 

Manteca (16-1) is the No. 1 seed in Division III for a second straight year and opens with No. 8 El Capitan, the third-place team out of the Western Athletic Conference. The rest of the bracket is loaded with schools that have competed in higher divisions, including second-seeded Capital Athletic League champion Rio Americano (12-2). 

“It’s definitely a tennis school, and we’re hoping to meet them in the finals,” Manteca coach MaryAnn Tolbert said of Rio Americano. “We’re pretty excited to be the No. 1 (seed) a second year in a row, but we don’t know too much about the other teams. We’re playing El Capitan, that’s all we really know at this point.”

She’s also hopeful her top player will be good to go in time for the team playoffs. Julia Tang is recovering from dehydration after retiring in the middle of a semifinal match in the VOL Singles Tournament on Tuesday. She forfeited the third-place match and did not compete in the doubles tournament Thursday.

“We definitely want to make sure we’re at full strength,” Tolbert said.

The Buffaloes are riding a 16-match winning streak after dropping its nonleague opener with Gregori, 6-3.

Sierra coach Ed Melfort likes his team’s chances in Division IV. Seeded fourth, his Timberwolves (13-3) will take on Patterson in the first round, with a potential match-up with No. 1 Los Banos (14-1-1) next. Los Banos, the WAC champion, was 20-0 last season before falling to Manteca 7-2 in the Division III semifinals.

“It’s nice to be able to have a home match,” Sierra coach Ed Melfort said. “I don’t know too much about those schools, but I know I have a pretty solid team.”