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Manteca meets its match against Rio Americano
Players and coaches from the Manteca girls tennis team get together one last cheer following its runner-up finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III final at Oak Park Tennis Center in Stockton. Rio Americano won, 7-2. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

STOCKTON — There will be no repeat of a title for the Manteca High girls tennis squad.

The defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champs lost to second-seeded Rio Americano Thursday at Oak Park, 7-2.

“It was tough getting back here (to the section finals) much less going back to back,” said Buffaloes coach Mary Ann Tolbert said.

Manteca (18-2) made the return trip by getting past El Capitan and Mira Loma in the re-vamped Division III format.

Freshman Sahiba Kaur, who is the No. 5 singles player, and No. 6 Stephania Mercado posted the only wins for the top-seeded Buffaloes against the Raiders (15-2).

“I had my backhand working,” said Kaur, who beat Emma Simons in two sets, 7-5, 6-2.

“I’m very proud of Sahiba,” added Tolbert. “She was focused and kept her composure.

“I’m looking forward to having her here for the next three years.”

Mercado, meanwhile, took care of Gianna Arcolino is straight sets, 6-1, 6-0.

The finals belonged to Rio Americano.

Top singles player Lexi Accinelli swept Manteca’s Julia Tang in two sets, 6-0, 6-0.

Claire Chally, No. 2 for the Raiders, battled Koryn Menasco, winning both sets, 6-3, 6-4.

No. 3 Amy Langlois beat the Buffaloes’ Taylor Corona, 6-2, 6-4.

Rio Americano freshman Emma Chally and Manteca’s No. 4 McKenna Condit played back and fourth their two-set battle that featured long rallies and strong return shots by both players. Chally came out ahead, winning, 7-5, 7-5.

Despite the outcome in doubles, the Buffaloes managed to keep it close against the Raiders.

In the end, Rio Americano’s Beck Paschal and Bailey Golez slipped past the Buffaloes’ top pair of Ravneet Dhillon and Navina Mann in three sets, 6-2, 0-6, 6-2.

Samantha Ford and Melanie Burr, the Raiders’ No. 2 duo, outdueled Julianne Eavenson and Kaileah Johnson in two sets, 6-3, 6-4.

The No. 3 team of Sofia Pantis and Katlyn Shaw topped Manteca’s Noeli Mercado and Melissa Poncini, 6-3, 6-3.

This was Rio Americano’s third trip in recent years to the section finals, losing back-to-back in 2012-13 in Division II.

“The third one was a charm,” said coach Maureen Barnett, who finally brings home the banner to Sacramento.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail