Gauchos’ tennis perfect and looking like new

ByHOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

These are heady times for the Casa Grande boys tennis team.

On Monday, the Gauchos completed their second straight perfect season with a 6-1 victory over host Healdsburg and if that’s not reason to celebrate, recently the school’s tennis courts underwent a $21,000 make-over.

Coach Lisa Thornton is hoping the good times will continue later this week when the SCL singles and doubles tournament takes place at Santa Rosa JC and there’s every reason to believe it will.

Casa boasts the league’s top singles player in Matt Halligan and is strong in the other singles and doubles positions.

Monday, Halligan comfortably handled Bosten Larson, 6-1, 6-1. Larson is expected to be the No. 3 seed in the SCL tournament.

Halligan, who is a sophomore, lost to Sean Hall in the last year’s finals and the Sonoma Valley player will be back as the No. 2 seed on Wednesday.

Thornton, who is in her fifth year at Casa, is as happy about getting the money to refurbish the four courts at the school as she is about 24 straight league wins.

The old courts had cracks in the concrete, the lines needed repainting and the nets were sagging.

It took Thornton several years to put together the funding for the project and it all came together earlier this month when the Gauchos played their first match on their “new” courts.

First she met U.S. Tennis Association criteria to receive funds and got a check for $6,000.

Then, the school district kicked in $10,000 from the deferred maintenance fund.

That left her $5,000 short. After seeing the success of the tennis program, the Casa Grande Boosters donated the balance. A large portion of that amount came from Athleta Sportswear. First Service provided new nets.

“It’s like a dream,” Thornton said. “The guys can now play matches and practice on courts that are like new.”

The good times should continue to roll at the Petaluma school.

“I’ve got 24 guys on the team this year and most of them are underclassmen,” Thornton said. “We work hard putting on clinics to introduce kids to tennis before they get to high school and that’s paying off.”

Besides Halligan, No. 3 singles player Victor Manfio won every match. He handled Marc Grandi Monday, 6-1, 6-0.

The other two singles players in the line-up — Ken Woods and Kevin Phan — also had straight set victories over their Healdsburg opponents.

The Gauchos’ top doubles team is Jason Nanez and Brian Sittner. They’ve lost only once this year.

The first two rounds of the SCL tournament will be played Wednesday with the semifinals and championship on Thursday.