File photo of Manuel Perez by Sue Misao
BY MIKE MALTAIS
Three-time state veteran Manuel Perez, undefeated in league competition this year, met the best of the state’s 1A/2B/1B tennis players and emerged with a seventh-place medal in singles play at the Yakima Tennis Club last Friday and Saturday (May 24-25).
Weather in the area that interfered with the state softball and baseball playoffs didn’t hamper the versatile venue that accommodated both indoor and outdoor play.
Perez faced opponents from St. George and Charles Wright Academy on the indoor courts on Friday and finished up with two outdoor matches against Zillah and LaSalle Saturday.
Perez defeated Mark Hay of St. George, 6-3, 6-2, to advance to the second round of play against Austin Kelley of Charles Wright.
“This was Manuel’s best game of the season,” said coach Dave Schulz. “There were lots of long rallies and hard hit balls.”
A win would have advanced Perez into the state final four, but Kelley finally prevailed after two hours, 4-6, 2-6, and dropped Perez into the bracket for fourth or seventh place.
On Saturday, Perez played Josh Zodoy of Zillah and won, 6-2, 7-5. That win set up a match with Brandon Stewart of LaSalle.
Perez took the first set, 6-0, and was up 5-3 in the second when Stewart rebounded with three set match points to go on to win, 7-5. Perez then won the third set, 1-6, to place seventh.
Earlier, Carlos Perez also lost to Stewart, 2-6, 3-6, to drop into the loser’s bracket. There, Michael Hampton of St. George defeated Perez, 8-6, in a pro set to eliminate him from competition.
In previous appearances at state, Manuel Perez placed seventh in 2011 in doubles competition with Nic Schulz and eighth last year in his first singles championship.