MERCED — Jake Van Vuren punctuated an undefeated run with the boys single championship, while Avery Veilleux and Hannah Lockwood seized the girls doubles title in the Southern League Coed Tennis Tournament last Friday at Merced College.
Van Vuren, also the league MVP for the five-time champion Knights (13-2), defeated teammate Nick Van Vliet 6-3, 6-2 in an all Ripon Christian final. Van Vuren went 15-0 in regular-season matches and lost only one set against league opponents.
“It was hard to root for somebody, so you don’t root for anybody,” Ripon Christian coach Mark Hoeksema joked. “One time I gave Nick some advice, the I went to Jake and said, ‘I’m pretending to give you advice just so it looks equal.’ Jake didn’t need much advice during the year, to be honest. He’s completely unflappable, very consistent and tough to beat.”
Veilleux and Lockwood also saw familiar faces en route to their league championship. In the semifinals, they held off Carly Eastham and Tess Chang 6-1, 5-7, 10-4. It proved to be a tougher match than its final, a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over a tandem from Delhi.
“They had three matches but saved their best tennis for the final,” Hoeksema said. “They played very well. It was a nice surprise for them and they were very thrilled.”
Veilleux and Lockwood hadn’t played doubles together all season. Veilleux served as the team’s No. 1 girls player, while Lockwood split time at the No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles spots.
The three Ripon Christian champions advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Coed Individual Tournament, which takes place Thursday and Friday at Oak Park in Stockton. The Knights will first host Colfax of the Pioneer Valley League today in the second round of the SJS team tournament. The match is scheduled to start 4 p.m. at the Ripon Community Center courts.