Bakersfield Christian senior Erik Buetow knows that his college course load at UCLA next year will be daunting.
His decision to forge ahead with scholastics makes this weekend so important because it might be the last time he plays competitive tennis.
Buetow is the No. 1 seed in the singles competition at the Central Section individual championship at the Immanuel Sports Complex in Reedley beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday.
Buetow advanced to the finals last season in a loss to Clovis North’s Mike Fourchy in a 6-3, 6-1 decision.
Fourchy has forgone this season’s tournament to continue playing on the junior circuit, leaving Buetow as the favorite.
“It’s awesome. I am extremely excited to play this weekend,” Buetow said. “Yes, I am the top seed, but it doesn't feel like I am the hunted. I got to the finals last year and super excited to get to play this weekend.”
Buetow is 24-1 this season in singles play and undefeated against section competition. Getting a shot at Fourchy was a goal for Buetow, but, as he says, the draw this weekend is still “extremely deep.”
“Of course, from a players standpoint, I would like to get another stab at (Fourchy),” Buetow said. “But at the same standpoint, this draw is extremely deep. I have to stay sharp and really play well. In tennis and sports in general, you play who you play. Would I like another shot at him? Yes. But I have my work cut out for me.”
Buetow opens action against Greg Gonzalez of Sanger, the No. 16 seed.
With former teammate Nathan Kwon, who is now a junior at Stockdale, as the No. 5 seed, there is a possibility of the two facing each other in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
“That would be awesome,” Buetow said. “I do like looking at the draws and who I could match up with in different rounds. That would be great. He’s an awesome player and would be a ton of fun. He pushes me and vice versa.”
After the loss in the finals a year ago, Buetow has imagined what a title would mean in his final high school match.
“That would be awesome. I don’t even know how to think about that,” Buetow said. “There have been times where I have been frustrated. That would be the best memory if I could finish my senior year off like that.
“It’s just time to play my game. That’s what I’ve done all year. I just want to be me and compete the best I can every time. I am confident in me and my game. If I do that, I feel I can beat anyone. I just need to go out there and play loose and just be me.”
Health issues forces Liberty doubles team to forfeit
The excitement level was through the roof for Phillip Shafik and Sam Guimte. A year after reaching the Central Section doubles championships, the duo were back again as the No. 2 seed this weekend.
But after Guimte had to go to a local emergency room for cramps, according to Liberty coach Stephanie Ollivier, the doubles team had to forfeit their spot in the tournament this weekend.
“Sammy on Tuesday had a really tough match and went down with cramps from his neck to his toes,” Ollivier said. "The doctors said he couldn't do any physical activity, let alone tennis, for at least a week."
The doubles draw has since been re-seeded with Sanger’s Jeremiah Yang and Dylan Reimer now the No. 2 seed.