Dave Hillestad woke up Tuesday morning not knowing if his talented team was going to advance past the day.
Stockdale, seeded No. 3 in the Central Section Division I boys tennis playoffs, went into Tuesday’s quarterfinals at home against No. 6 Clovis without its top two players Brandon Park and Nathan Kwon.
Stockdale trailed in five matches but was able to rally and beat the Cougars 6-3 to advance to the semifinals on Thursday. The Mustangs will play at No. 2 Clovis West after the Eagles beat No. 7 Liberty, 7-2.
“We turned around a couple of matches, big time,” Hillestad said. “Vivek Gupta just dug in from a 1-5 deficit in the No. 5 singles. This was one of our best wins without our No. 1 and 2, in a long time. That really swung it. If we don’t win that match, oh man. This was an unbelievable win for us.”
Hillestad is hopeful Park, who has tendinitis in his left knee, will return to action on Thursday while Kwon’s injured ankle likely will keep him out.
“I think (Park) will try to tough it out and play on Thursday,” Hillestad said. “We are bringing Kwon, but we will see. We have a chance.”
Veteran Trojans advance
Foothill coach Ruben Jimenez has leaned on his Big 3 most of the season, and they have been doing their best to keep the Trojans on the right path.
In the D-IV quarterfinals, No. 3 Foothill took care of No. 6 Wasco 7-2 behind senior leaders Moses Jimenez, Daniel Vargas and Joel Arce.
All three won the top three singles matches to lead Foothill (25-3) to victory.
“They are all such strong players on the court,” said Ruben Jimenez of his three leaders. “They’ve just been key to our success. They are the players I can go to and worry less about each match.”
Foothill lost in the D-IV semifinals a year ago, but lost 5-4 to Dinuba. This time around, the Trojans head north to play at No. 2 Fresno-Roosevelt on Thursday.
Jimenez said he spent more than an hour speaking with Arce and Moses Jimenez about what the team needs to do to advance to the section championship match.
“We’ve been looking over scores and go over possibilities and strategy," the head coach said. "For an hour tonight, I went over what we need to do Thursday with Moses and Joel to make sure we get over the hump.”
BHS survives dreaded third meeting
Bakersfield High coach Tammy Maiocco said before the Drillers' D-II boys tennis quarterfinals match that her team couldn't look past a Centennial squad the Drillers had already beaten twice this season.
No. 3 BHS held on for a 5-4 victory over No. 11 Centennial. The Drillers will play at No. 2 Sanger in the semifinals.
“You can’t ever look past a team a third time, ever. I knew they were a solid a team all year and sneak up and be a definite threat,” Maiocco said.
Also in D-II, No. 5 West upset No. 4 Tulare Western 6-3 while Sanger beat No. 10 Garces 8-1.
Both Kern County teams in D-III also advanced to the semifinals after No. 1 Taft beat No. 8 Selma 8-1 and No. 3 Delano defeated No. 6 Reedley 8-1.
Highland’s season came to a close in a 6-3 loss to Roosevelt in the D-IV quarterfinals, and Golden Valley lost 5-4 on the road at Fresno Christian.
Big day for Liberty throwers
On a rare one-off day, only the shot put and discus events at the Central Section South Area Track and Field Championships took place on Tuesday at Liberty. The remaining events will be held at Bakersfield High beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
In the four events, Liberty junior Daniel Viveros and freshman teammate Faith Bender both cracked the top 10 in South Area meet history with their attempts.
Viveros won the discus with a toss of 179-feet, 8-inches.
That is the 11th-best in meet history. Of the top 10, four came weeks before Van Mounts (Bakersfield, 1997-98) and Matt Darr (Frontier, 2009-10) won state titles.
Viveros also won the shot put title at 60-8.5. That’s No. 9 in meet history. Four of the other top 10 throws came in state championship seasons for the throwers that season.
Bender’s top mark in the shot put of 41-1 is No. 9 in meet history and her discus throw of 151-1 is now sixth in meet history. Both are freshmen meet records.