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Sierra closing in on first VOL title after toppling Manteca
Manteca-Sierra boys tennis
Sierra’s Sparsh Beedi sends it back to Landon Butler of Manteca in the No. 1 doubles match. - photo by Wayne Thallander

 Manteca’s Yok Chai Ma got his revenge Tuesday, but Sierra is still on track to grab a piece of its first-ever Valley Oak League boys tennis championship.

The host Timberwolves defeated Manteca 6-3 despite dropping the top three singles matches. They can wrap up a likely title share with Oakdale — the co-leaders split their two matches with 5-4 scores — by winning Thursday at Kimball.

“It’s great (to be in this position),” Sierra coach Dan Duke said, “but we gotta beat Kimball on the road. One at a time, you know.”

Sierra (8-1 VOL, 12-1 overall) travels to Tracy to face Kimball on Tuesday, while Manteca (5-4) caps the regular season against East Union at Manteca Regional Tennis Center.

Ma dominated his rematch with Sierra’s Brady Alves, who handed the reigning VOL singles champion his first loss to a league opponent. Ma actually trailed 0-3 to start and found another gear for the rest of the match.

“I just told myself to relax a little bit and play your game,” Ma said.

Alves swept him 7-5, 6-4 back on March 19. That was the first meeting between the two juniors since Ma downed him in the VOL Tournament final last season.

Ma was not at his best a month ago but is peaking as the postseason nears.

“I was sick coming off of spring break — didn’t hit, didn’t practice at all,” Ma said of his previous match with Alves. “Guess I was a little bit nervous, too. These last two matches, I definitely feel like it’s getting a little bit better.”

Manteca-Sierra boys tennis
Manteca No. 1 player Yok Chai Ma powers a forehand return to Sierra’s Brady Alves.

No. 2 Michael Osanna defeated Ashton Hillard 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the only three-set match of the day. Ivan Barajas took care of David Martin 6-3, 6-2 for Manteca’s third team point.

Sierra again flexed its depth in a big match.

“Sometimes, the No. 1-2 guys have to take the hit for the team, because they’re playing the other teams’ best players,” Duke said. But I’m proud of all of them — 1-19. Our doubles have been big. They got us over the hump against Oakdale.”

The No. 2 doubles team of Ryan Alves and Harshith Kumar clinched the fifth team point with a 6-1, 6-4 in over Declan Edwards and Steven Sarmiento. The Manteca duo threatened to extend the match when it tied the second set 4-4. Alves put away an overhead smash to lock up the pivotal ninth game for the two Timberwolves.

Moments later, the No. 1 team of Sparsh Beedi and Sid Gopendran put the finishing touches on their 6-2, 6-1 sweep of Landon Butler and Harrian Arriaga-Sepulveda. No. 3 Zain Ali and Alex Rey Rosario quickly vanquished Dominick Esquivel and Shubham Sareen, 6-1, 6-0.

In singles, No. 4 Hasnain Ali downed Vincent Almeida 6-4, 6-2; No. 5 Oliver Naven staved off Michael Levchenko 6-2, 7-5; and Santiago Franco ousted Kevin Navarro, 6-0, 6-4.