Merced High boys tennis coach Keith Tetangco was a junior playing doubles on the last Bears team to win a Central California Conference title.
That drought came to an end on Thursday as Merced defeat Golden Valley 6-3 to clinch the Bears’ first CCC title since 1995.
“The kids were very excited,” Tetangco said. “We knew Golden Valley would be tough. We weren’t overconfident, but we expected to win. We’re definitely happy.”
The last conference title came at the end of a Merced dynasty that included 79 straight CCC wins.
This Bears team finished with nine straight wins to clinch a championship with a 9-1 record.
Merced’s depth played a key role in Thursday’s win over the Cougars (7-3).
Golden Valley was able to win the top three singles matches, including the showdown at No.1 singles between two of the top players in the conference in the Cougars’s Cesar Nava and Merced’s Jordan Cabrera. Nava defeated Cabrera for the second time this season with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Thomas Becker and Adrian Garcia also picked up wins for the Cougars.
It was the wins by Merced’s John Miao and Ryan Ribota that helped swing the match in the Bears favor.
Miao came back from a 5-0 deficit in the first set to defeat Leng Moua, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4. Ribota also lost his first three games to the Cougars’ Toby Osborne before winning the final 12 games in a 6-3, 6-0 victory.
The Bears No. 1 doubles team of Moazum Munawer and Tyler Castro, which has only lost one match this season, continued their strong play with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Thomas Becker and Colin Rabago.