Jason Furtado thought it would be close.
A battle of Valley Oak League unbeatens on Tuesday afternoon was decided by a single point with Kimball escaping with a 5-4 victory.
The victory creates a little separation at the top of a crowded leaderboard.
Kimball improved to 4-0, securing a one-game cushion over Weston Ranch and Manteca.
The Cougars will grow from this loss, Furtado said.
“I knew going into this match that there was a good chance the final score was going to be within one point,” he said. “Even though we played great today, I feel that we have yet to hit our stride. I’m excited about getting back to work (today) and getting even better.”
There were a handful of Cougar highlights.
No. 6 singles player Josh Gonzales continued his unbeaten streak with a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Weston Ranch also swept the doubles matches to keep matters close.
Andre Albino and Adrian Andrade faced the stiffest challenge in doubles, grinding out a 7-6, 6-2 victory in the No. 1 match.
The tandems of Ion Ibiso-Tejpaul Bainiwal and Jesse Nisperos-Andrew Gonser swept their matches, surrendering just three combined games.
“I don’t think many people believed that any team was going to stand a chance against Kimball this year, but we proved today that we are good enough to compete with anyone,” Furtado said. “… I’m proud of how of my guys played, but it’s time to get back to work.”
Manteca 9, Lathrop 0
With a series of pivotal matches ahead of it, Manteca (3-1 VOL, 5-3 overall) used Tuesday’s tilt with Lathrop as a tune-up.
The Buffaloes appear ready for the grind.
Manteca swept all matches, surrendering just eight games in 12 singles matches to improve to 3-1 in Valley Oak League play.
Now comes the hard part.
Manteca will play back-to-back matches on Thursday and Friday against East Union and Sonora, respectively.
After that, the Buffaloes square off against the league’s brass – undefeated Kimball and second-place Weston Ranch.
Manteca is tied with Weston Ranch. Its only loss is to Kimball.
“The next two weeks will decide if we can win league,” Manteca coach Frank Fontana said. “Our fate will be decided before Manteca Unified’s spring break.”
Sonora 7, East Union 2
SONORA – Singles player Kevin Flores and the doubles team of Roman Gil and Marco Mata recorded straight-sets victories for East Union.
Oakdale 8, Sierra 1
Anthony Alcantar netted Sierra’s only point with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Oakdale’s Josh Niendorf.
Contrary to the final team score, the Timberwolves played the Mustangs close. Three singles matches went to three sets.