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Lopez advances to second straight VOL final
Kimball freshman a good test for Mantecas top player
Manteca High sophomore Mike Lopez takes on Kimballs Garrett Chun in Thursdays Valley Oak League Singles Tournament final. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Kimball High’s Valley Oak League champion boys tennis team would have been guaranteed an individual title had standout Logan Staggs, one of the top players in his age group nationally, been healthy for the start of the conference tournament Tuesday at East Union.

Instead, the Jaguars will settle on having a good chance of grabbing the singles title in Thursday’s final. Mike Lopez of Manteca High confronts freshman Garrett Chun in his second straight final-round appearance. They will begin play at around 11:30 Thursday morning during the doubles tournament.

Lopez was the runner-up to then-senior teammate Oral Nunis in last year’s VOL championship.

Staggs, a junior, is likely out for the remainder of the postseason with an ankle injury. Chun is outstanding as Kimball’s No. 2 player and could be top dog on most other teams. He previously faced and beat Lopez last December in a Modesto tournament.

“It was a fairly routine win for Garrett, who is a great player, but Mike has improved since then,” Manteca coach Frank Fontana said.

Lopez and Chun both qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Individual Tournament and top the all-VOL team list.

The finalists played their most difficult matches in the quarterfinal round Tuesday. Lopez was pushed by Weston Ranch’s Sukhman Singh in a 6-3, 7-5 win. Manteca’s Yok-Jing Ma was eliminated 1-6, 2-6 by Chun. Other local quarterfinalists were Luke Macias of East Union and Kevin Yamayoshi of Weston Ranch.

Two Sonora players joined Lopez and Chun in the semifinals. Lopez cruised past Andrew Klatt 6-1, 6-0, while Chun dispatched Josh Smith, 6-2, 6-2.

“Mike’s match with Suhkman was very difficult for him,” Fontana said. Singh narrowly lost his semifinal contest to Nunis in the 2012 tournament.

“Suhkman has an awkward style that Mike struggled with. Mike has a little more skill in putting away shots, and that was the difference.”