OAKDALE — The stage is set.
East Union’s boys tennis team wrapped up the toughest week of its Valley Oak League schedule by upending Oakdale 8.5-6.5 Thursday.
The Lancers are off to a surprising 5-1 start in league play and will end the first half of the regular season next Wednesday with a make-up match against undefeated Manteca.
“Manteca’s had a great tennis program for many years and always has been at or near the top,” East Union coach Ron Bylow said. “I think we’re capable, but we have to be at our best to win.
“At this point it’s great to 5-1, but we have to stay hungry and stay humble because we still have a long ways to go. We’re pretty young, and our program hasn’t been in this position in a while.”
East Union has made a dramatic 180-degree turnaround after going 2-14 last season, and to further prove its worth it had to get past Oakdale, which finished in a second-place tie last year.
Leading the way were No. 1 singles player Sean Hilscher and undefeated doubles team Matt Eichsteadt and Chris Garcia.
Hilscher defeated Oakdale No. 1 Daniel Dunning 6-4 and won his other two sets more handily 6-1 and 6-0.
The Lancers needed every one of those sets, as they took just four of the nine in singles. No. 2 Ricky Pelosa swept Josh Firstbrook for EU’s other singles point.
“Sean made the difference as far as singles,” Bylow said. “He’s been playing like a No. 1, and he gave us the points that we needed.”
Eichsteadt and Garcia, which has won several tight matches for its 10-0 start, defeated Jared Firstbrook and Paul Perronie 10-7 before winning again 10-1.
Jordan Concepcion and Marcos Aleman lost 7-10 to Firstbrook-Perronie but beat Jeremy Willinger and Ben Kirby, 10-3.
Ochoa routed Sierra No. 1 Kevin Rausa 1-6, but Rausa bounced back to take 6-3 and 6-4 victories. Forest Tolman grinded out a 7-5 win from the No. 2 singles spot.
Oliver Wood and Adrian Prieto won 10-8 and 10-0 at No. 1 doubles for Sierra (2-4). John Alan Hewitt and Greg Blockinger added a 10-6 win.