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Lancers get league title all to themselves
East Union No. 1doubles player Chris Garcia gets in position along the baseline to keep the ball in play against rival Sierra Thursday at Manteca Regional Tennis Center. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
Brandon Manville picked up a tennis racquet for the first time this past summer.

Never in his wildest dreams did he think he’d be a part of East Union High’s surprising run to the Valley Oak League championship.

“Not at all,” he said. “I got lucky I suppose.

The first-year senior provided the Lancers the clinching point in their 3-2 win over Sierra at Manteca Regional Tennis Center Thursday. The victory assured East Union (13-1, 16-1 overall) the outright VOL championship, the program’s first since going back-to-back in 2003-04.

It turned out that East Union didn’t need to win to get the title all to itself. Defending champ Manteca High, which went into the day trailing the league leader by a match, was stunned 3-2 in Sonora.

Manville swept Greg Blockinger 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 3 singles match, rendering the intense No. 1 showdown between 2010 Bulletin All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year Kevin Rausa and EU’s Ricky Peloso moot.

Rausa won that match 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

“It felt really knowing I helped the team take it home,” Manville said.  “I’m just really happy to be a part of it.”

Three of East Union’s starters have been a part of the rebuilding process from the start as freshmen in Ron Bylow’s first year as head coach.

One of them is No. 1 doubles player Chris Garcia, who played one match his freshman year when the Lancers were 0-14. East Union’s climb from there was steady, going 2-12 in 2009 and 8-6 last year.

Garcia and Matt Eichsteadt defeated Josh Weiland and Joel Boling, 7-5, 6-2.

“I can’t believe we did it, it’s crazy,” Garcia said. “Three years ago we were 0-14, and three years later we’re VOL champions. I didn’t know we’d be good this year. It caught me off guard.”

At No. 2 doubles, East Union’s Marcos Aleman and Arturo Leon beat Jimmy Deng and Austin Vietor 6-2, 6-0. Forrest Tolman accounted for Sierra’s other point, dispatching Ariel Rosette, 6-0, 6-4.

Aleman and Rosette are the Lancers’ other four-year players, and Leon is a junior — the only non-senior in Thursday’s lineup. Michael Banzon, paired with Aleman for many of EU’s previous league matches, is a senior.

“I’d hate to lose these seniors because they’re the core, obviously,” Bylow said. “We have to regroup and start back in the spring and summer and work hard for next year.”

There is still work ahead for 2011, however. Next Tuesday and Thursday is the league’s singles and doubles tournaments, and there’s the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Team Tournament that starts on May 2.

Sonora 3, Manteca 2
In Sonora, the Buffaloes (11-3) were dealt a heartbreaking one-point loss for the third time this season.

The swing matches came at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles. Freshman Jacob Well competed well but dropped a 6-1, 1-6, 6-7 (3-7) tiebreaker to Hunter Vroman. In doubles, Manteca’s Marcus Munoz and Sam Dhaliwal lost to Daniel Bowack and Gavin Ferris, 3-6, 6-4, 1-6.

Sonora also won at No. 1 singles, where Josh Smith defeated Alex Barragan, 6-2, 7-5.

Manteca’s wins weren’t close. Xavier Lopez cruised past Andrew Klatt 6-3, 6-0; and Oral Nunis and Max Angelo wrapped up an undefeated VOL season with a  6-0, 6-0 sweep of Austin Poe and Billy Parks.

Oakdale 4, Weston Ranch 1
In Oakdale, the No. 2 doubles tandem of Carl Legaspi and Ray Lagoc scored the Cougars’ lone point with a 6-2, 6-3 victory. All other matches were also decided in straight sets.