Solman Aniss used to read articles such as these.
They were about his older brothers, Mostafa and Yassen Aniss.
“It ignited the fire,” Solman said. “I wanted to be as good as them, if not better. I feel like that’s how it all started.”
Solman is the third member of the family to be named the Manteca Bulletin All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year. Mostafa beat Yassen in the Valley Oak League Singles Tournament finals en route to earning the All-Area honor in 2008. The following year it was Yassen receiving the award after a surprising second-place run in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Doubles Tournament.
“I think it’s really nice how it has come full circle,” Solman said. “As the last brother, I get to fill the shoes they left for me.”
The youngest Aniss got to accomplish what his brothers could not, helping Manteca High win its first Sac-Joaquin Section boys tennis title in just his sophomore year. The Buffaloes thumped River City 7-2 for the Division III banner, and Aniss did his part with a 6-2, 6-2 sweep in the No. 1 singles match.
Although he came up short on some of his individual goals this season, the section championship was always priority No. 1. For him, it was all about winning one for 12th-year coach Frank Fontana.
“It meant a lot more to Fontana,” Aniss said. “He’s been coaching there long before I started watching (his brothers) play when I was in third grade. It felt good to contribute in that.”
Fontana expects continued improvement from his top player. Aniss placed second in the VOL, losing to Kimball junior Logan Le 2-6, 6-2, 1-6.
The competition only got stiffer for Aniss. He lost to the eventual SJS Division II finalists in back-to-back matches in the team playoffs, first falling to River City’s Luvdeep Bal of River Valley before getting swept by Ceres standout Nolan McCaig. The Midwestern State-bound McCaig, who has only lost four times in four decorated seasons, defeated Bal in the title round, 6-3, 6-2.
Aniss dispatched Benicia’s Nat Tabtab 6-3, 7-6 (6) to open the section tourney, earning a rematch with the No. 2-seeded Bal. Bal dispatched Aniss, 7-5, 6-2.
“He had a lot of growth as a tennis player from his freshman year,” Fontana said of Aniss. “Playing at the No. 1 spot, he was always playing the best player from other teams and got to go up against top-caliber kids. To be able to make the finals of the league tournament and win a match in the section tournament as a sophomore was a good accomplishment. We haven’t had someone do that in a couple of years.”
Aniss wanted to accomplish more but understands he has two more years to leave his mark.
It won’t be easy. Le will return to defend his VOL title, and Bal figures to be a top contender at the section level next year as a sophomore.
A captain on the Manteca sophomore basketball team this past year, Aniss plans on concentrating on tennis moving forward.
“Being able to play those guys allows me to come up to their level,” Aniss said. “It definitely humbled me but it also gave me motivation to work harder to be a player of their caliber for my junior year and beyond.”