Brian de la Porte and Ceres High's tennis program will be in a new league next year, so this was their last chance to beat rival Manteca and win a Valley Oak League crown.
They took advantage of the opportunity, beating Manteca 4-1 late in the season to secure the title. It also was de la Porte's first victory over Manteca coach Frank Fontana.
"Frank's a great coach and was a great player," said de la Porte, who was 0-10 vs. Fontana as a player and 0-7 as a coach. "I talked to the kids before Manteca, reminding the seniors of the four years they spent getting to this point."
Luis Ochoa, Wilson Liang, Raul Massie and Harman Bains won their matches vs. Manteca, giving the Bulldogs a celebratory sendoff as they join the Western Athletic Conference next school year.
"Luis has been playing for a while, but our other kids took up tennis in high school," de la Porte said. "Wilson was a real key. He was 7-0 in singles the second half of league. He's also the salutatorian and going to UCLA. Raul is going to Arizona State, too, so these kids are working in class, too."
For his work with the Bulldogs this season, de la Porte is the Stanislaus District's Tennis Coach of the Year.
It's been a fun couple of seasons for Ceres tennis: Both its teams won the VOL this year — the girls' team plays in the fall — and a Bulldog has won the individual singles championship the last two seasons. "We've got good freshman coming in, so we'll start working with them just like we did with this year's group four years ago," de la Porte said.
— RICHARD T. ESTRADA