For the third year in a row, the Western Athletic Conference girls tennis singles championship came down to Los Banos' Alexis Barcellos and Ceres' Marifer Ochoa. And for the second year in a row, Barcellos defeated Ochoa 7-5, 6-4 to claim the title.
"It's great. I like it, but there's always room to get better," Barcellos said. "There's still sections. That's my goal, is to try to go farther."
For a while, it looked like Ochoa was going to run away with the match when she took a 5-2 lead in the first set. But Barcellos won nine of the next 10 games to win the first set 7-5 and take a 5-1 lead in the second set.
"I just went back to the last time I played her when I was down 4-1, and I came back. I just thought about what I had to fix," Barcellos said. "I needed to stop playing defensively. I needed to start hitting more winners instead of stopping her from hitting winners. I had to think about mechanics."
But Ochoa's errors did come back to haunt her -- the Ceres junior had multiple double-faults in five games, all of them Barcellos wins. Ochoa came back in the second set, winning three straight and fending off a pair of match-points to close within a game.
"When it was like 5-1, I was thinking it's not going to happen," Barcellos said. "But then she started getting to 5-3, I was like, I'm not letting that happen, I don't want to go three sets."
With a 5-4 lead, Barcellos took a 40-30 lead before watching Ochoa double-fault again, this time on her third match-point chance.
In doubles, Los Banos placed three teams in the semifinals, with the teams of Nicole Marchese/Christina Soares, Elena Erreca/Monique Arretche and Tiffany Liu/Jacquelin Arretche skating through the first two rounds. Marchese and Soares defeated Liu and Arretche for the championship.
The SJS released its team playoff brackets this week. Los Banos will host a second-round match Oct. 30 after a bye in the first round. The Tigers will play the winner between Oakmont (the third seed from the Capital Valley Conference) and Kennedy (second seed from the Metro Conference).
Should LB advance, it will host the winner between Benicia (second see from the Solano County Athletic Conference) and Manteca (top seed from the Valley oak League). After that, LB would hit the road, most likely traveling to Capital Athletic League top see Rio Americano, which Los Banos defeated 7-2 in the second round of last year's playoffs.
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at email@example.com