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SHARP RETURN - Oakdale Racketeers Play It Smart, On, Off Court
3-23 OAK tennis1
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Coach: Judy Vejar (first season)

Key Returners: SR Daniel Dunning, JR Jeremy Willinger, JR Jared Firstbrook, JR Paul Perrone, SO Chandler Johnson

Key Newcomers: SO Frank Rossier, SR Anton Granvall

Team Strength: Oakdale has a legitimate 1-2 punch in singles with returning standout, Dunning, and foreign exchange student, Granvall. A solid group of doubles players should nab enough wins for Oakdale to be competitive in most league matches as well.

VOL Outlook: Manteca owns Valley Oak League tennis, and proved that fact by topping Oakdale in a 15-0 landslide early this season. The Buffaloes should enter the postseason as the league’s top seed, and leave the likes of Oakdale, Sierra, Sonora and Kimball to fight for top-three finishes.

Fast Fact: Dunning and Perrone are also clever off the court. The pair led Oakdale’s academic decathlon team to an eighth place finish in the state.

Daniel Dunning’s sharp returns to opposing serves from Valley Oak League tennis players mirrors his likewise approach in the classroom.

The Oakdale High senior scored 8,533 points and nabbed gold medals in two different subjects to lead the Mustang AcaDeca team to an eighth place finish at the 32nd Annual California Academic Decathlon earlier this month.

It’s only fitting that Oakdale’s brightest student is the No. 1 singles player on the Mustang tennis team.

He and his AcaDeca teammate and fellow singles player Paul Perrone (bronze medal in Art) missed practices in the past few weeks to attend these decathlons, but coach Judy Vejar certainly considers these excused absences.

It’s far more important than tennis, but that’s behind us,” Vejar said.

Vejar took the reins this February for her first year with the boys after five consecutive seasons with the Oakdale girls.

“I love being with the girls and the boys,” Vejar said. “(I am going to) teach them everything I know.”

Dunning returns to the tennis court after a successful year of action with graduated standout, Blake Dunn. The fresh face of foreign exchange student, Anton Granvall, has replaced his 2010 counterpart.

Vejar says Granvall adds a serious 1-2 punch for Oakdale’s single games, and expects big things from Granvall this year. The pair will join AcaDeca standout, Perrone, in a triple threat to face opposing singles players this year.

The Oakdale doubles haven’t changed much in a year, with Jared Firstbrook, Jeremy Willinger and Chandler Johnson all back in the wider court. With Perrone moved up to singles, the trio sees action from Frank Rossier to complete the starting lineup.

Firstbrook and Willinger upended Austin Vietor and Chris Palaci of Sierra 10-0 in a 6-9 loss to the Timberwolves on March 15. Johnson and Rossier took 10-3 wins over the same pair, but both of Oakdale’s doubles teams fell to the top pair from Sierra.

The Sierra singles were just one step ahead, and saw No. 1 Kevin Ransa beat Dunning in a 6-1 match. Dunning topped Greg Blockinger 6-4 and worked past Forrest Tolman by the same score.

Granvall lost to both Ransa and Tolman (a 6-7 (5-7) tiebreaker), but defeated Blockinger 6-1. Perrone lost to all three Sierra singles players.

Rain has forced some delays in league action, but Oakdale is 2-2 (Lathrop forfeited) against three of the league’s best after a clutch win over Sonora this month. The team has some tough tests ahead with East Union and Kimball, but should contend to be in every match with continued progression as the season moves on.

They host Kimball today, March 23.