Considering how the match started, Manteca girls tennis coach MaryAnn Tolbert was admittedly taken aback at the final outcome.
Buffaloes 9, River Valley 0.
The Valley Oak League champions trounced the third-place team out of the Tri-County Conference in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs on Tuesday, putting the rest of the competition on notice. Western Athletic Conference champion Los Banos, which defeated Pioneer 6-3, visits Manteca (17-1) next Monday in the semifinals.
River Valley (13-5) of Yuba City defeated Ceres 7-2 in the out-bracket match on Monday, winning for the first time in postseason play. But the Falcons were simply outgunned by the deeper Buffaloes in this one-sided quarterfinal.
“It was surprising,” Tolbert said. “They’re a third-place team coming out of their league but it’s a strong league, so we expected it to be a tough go today. I’m very proud of the girls in the way they focused and came through today.”
Tolbert was understandably nervous at the beginning. Fourth-year senior Gladis Sandoval dropped her first set in the No. 5 singles match, and Makenna Condit — unbeaten in dual matches from the sixth spot in the regular season — surrendered the first three games in her contest.
Sandoval came back to beat Amelia Marchetti 3-6, 6-2, 10-8, while Condit knocked off Manjot Mann, 6-4, 6-1.
It was also nip-and-tuck at the outset of the No. 1 singles showdown between Manteca’s Taylor Corona and Navdeep Bal. Corona swept, 7-5, 6-1.
“It was kind of weird not knowing how the other person plays,” Corona said. “In our league we obviously know all about it each other. It was kind of cool going in not knowing what to expect but it feels good to be able to win.
“She kept hitting them to the corners and I had to stop letting them go, so I just started hustling more.”
Manteca dominated the rest of the singles matches: No. 2 Koryn Menasco dispatched Zoe Hearn 6-1, 6-2, No. 3 Julia Tang made quick work of Joanna Jarvis 6-1, 6-0 and No. 4 Stephania Mercado took down Brianna Reyes, 6-2, 6-1.
At No. 1 doubles, Rav Dhillon and Navina Mann defeated Karina Sahota and Preetinder Kaur, 6-1, 6-2. Julianne Eavenson and Noeli Mercado held off Karsima Lucatero and Kimbran Lally 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) at second doubles. And in the final match of the day, No. 3 Prerna Singh and Melissa Poncini beat Ella Harrison and Gigi Kaur, 6-2, 6-1.
Next Monday’s semifinal is scheduled for a 2 o’clock start. The winner gets River City or Oakdale on Wednesday, Nov. 9. Manteca hosts the championship round if it wins. River City is looking to advance to the finals for a third straight year after losing the last two to Central Catholic by 5-4 scores.