ROSEVILLE — Two games.
That’s all that stood between Manteca’s Yassen Aniss and Arnie Morales and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II doubles tournament championship Friday at Johnson Ranch Racquet Club.
Aniss and Morales went straight to work to open the semifinals, dispatching Pioneer’s No. 3 seed, Allen Toscano and Oscar Figueroa, in routine fashion, 6-2, 7-5.
“They took an easy lead in the second set, and then (Toscano and Figueroa) made a comeback to take a 4-3 lead,” Manteca head coach Frank Fontana said. “Then (Aniss and Morales) turned it on.”
The Valley Oak League champions stormed out of the gate in the championship match against top-seeded Oak Ridge tandem Dusty Davis and Andrew Hall, winning the first set 6-3.
Davis and Hall answered with a 6-2 second-set victory and took a 5-2 advantage in the third.
Aniss and Morales fought through two separate match-point situations to claw back into it at 4-5 before eventually succumbing.
“They took the loss tough,” Fontana said. “But going into it, this was going to be their last time wearing the Manteca green in competition. It was going to be emotional either way.”
Aniss, the younger brother of Mostafa, who many credit alongside Fontana for the rejuvenation of the Manteca tennis program, not only lived up to his brother’s sizable reputation in his senior season, but he also moved the program further along.
“Driving back I was thinking about three years ago when we first showed up at sections,” Fontana said. “Nobody knew who we were.
“Now they know that we can play tennis in Manteca.”
Morales’ story is a perfect example of how far Buffaloes tennis has come since the Aniss’s and Fontana joined forces.
Prior to three years ago, Morales had never even picked up a tennis racquet.
Now the senior is a VOL champion and a section runner-up.
“I can’t say how proud I am of those two kids,” Fontana said. “They worked their butts off day in and day out for years, and not a lot of people saw it except me.
“Not only are they great tennis players, but they’re great kids too.”