ROSEVILLE — Solman Aniss and Kurtis Ma didn’t quite reach achieve their ultimate goal of winning the first Sac-Joaquin Section Individual Tournament championship for Manteca High, but the two seniors have secured their place in program history.
They’re the Division II doubles runners-up after dropping 0-6, 2-6 decision to top-seeded Mark Vyrlan and Vincent Pogson of Rio Americano. Aniss and Ma are the fourth Manteca doubles tandem to place second in this tournament and the third pair for head coach Frank Fontana.
Among the previous second-place finishers are older brothers Yassen Aniss and Yok-Jing Ma — the elder Aniss teamed with Arnie Morales in 2009, while Ma paired with Michael Lopez in 2015. Greg Toy and Jody Ruble are Manteca’s first SJS Division II doubles finalists, doing so in 1980. Jeff Brock (1980), Eddie Hubik (1988) and Jeff Marks (1990) competed for singles titles.
“These families have meant a lot for the program,” Fontana said of the Anisses and Mas. “We have come up short but they represented our school with class and dignity throughout the event and have continue to have Manteca High matter at the sectional level.”
Aniss and Ma, Manteca’s valedictorian and salutatorian, were seeded No. 2 for the tournament, and they swept their first two opponents on Wednesday. On Thursday, they knocked off eventual third-place finishers Ian Ng and Samyak Surti of Vista del Lago 7-5, 6-0 in the semifinals. The two Buffaloes did not start well, falling behind 1-4 in the opening set.
After a long break in action, Aniss and Ma took on the Rio Americano duo of Vyrlan and Pogson.
“The final match was a lot closer than the score line,” Fontana said. “We went 0-3 on deuce points. We win those, everything looks different.”
The season isn’t over yet for Aniss and Ma. Their busy week of tennis ends today with an SJS Division IV team playoff semifinal at top-seeded Mountain House. The dual begins at around 4. Second-seeded Valley hosts No. 3 Oakdale in the other semifinal. Oakdale and Manteca finished second and third, respectively, in the Valley Oak League behind Central Catholic, which is in Division III.
“We can’t hang our head since we need to get ready for (today’s) team semifinal match,” Fontana said. “Kurtis and Solman have to get refocused to play. We need their best efforts to take on the top-seeded team in the division.”