FAIRFIELD — Manteca High’s tennis team was at a major disadvantage when it faced Vanden in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Team Tournament Tuesday.
The outmatched Buffaloes took their worst loss of the season by a 9-0 margin against the Solano County Athletic Conference champion.
Manteca (13-2) had to adjust to new surroundings and an unfamiliar format that Vanden is accustomed to playing in its league.
Manteca, the Valley Oak League’s co-champion, plays under a round-robin format during the first half of the regular season, then it shifts to a best-of-five setup for the second half.
The postseason nine-match format forces the qualifying VOL teams to break up doubles teams while throwing inexperienced players into the fire, and there is a whole lot of inexperience for Manteca, which played just two seniors out of 12 Tuesday.
“Vanden is a team of seniors and we’re pretty young this year,” Manteca coach Frank Fontana said. “I think we were slightly intimidated at the start. We didn’t have it today for some reason, but Vanden played very well.
“They just flat beat us, there’s no other way around it.”
Manteca’s top two singles players, senior Alex Barragan and Alex McAdams, still have to play out the rest of the season with the Division II Doubles Tournament to look forward to.
Barragan was in one of the more competitive matches of the day, dropping a 4-6, 4-6 loss to Greg Deleon.
Manteca’s best shot at squeaking out a point was at No. 1 doubles, where Max Angelo and Oral Nunis fell 4-6, 6-7 (5-7) against Kevin Sogata and Michael Rodriguez.
The rest of the matches were fairly routine for Vanden.
In singles, McAdams (3-6, 2-6), Marc Leon (2-6, 1-6), Xavier Lopez (0-6, 1-6), Marcus Munoz (0-6, 0-6) and Albert Ngugyi (0-6, 2-6) all took losses. Lopez and Munoz were doubles partners for the entire season.
In doubles, Josh Mariscal and Ian Sloriendo were defeated, 1-6, 2-6; as were Elias Soto and Indermeet Dhaliwal, 1-6, 0-6.
With all but Barragan and Leon returning next season, Fontana hopes that Tuesday’s loss is valuable experienced gain for a team that is looking to continue its winning tradition in the VOL. Manteca claimed its third title in four years this season.
“Playing at this level shows the kids how much more we have to improve,” Fontana said. “Once we get out of VOL play, we’ll run into some quality teams (in the playoffs). Hopefully this will inspire them to work hard in the offseason.”
Barragan and McAdams, which claimed the VOL doubles title last week, will next compete Thursday and possibly Friday at Johnson Ranch Racquet Club in Roseville.
Last year, Manteca graduates Yassen Aniss and Arnie Morales made an improbable run to the SJS Division II Doubles Tournament finals, where they fell to top-seeded Dusty Davis and Andrew Hall of Oak Ridge, 6-3, 2-6, 4-6.