Driller tandem rallies to qualify for section to highlight South Area boys tennis action

Trailing big in the first set of their doubles match, Bakersfield High’s Malcolm Hess and Maddox Dumatrait took a moment between points to settle each other's nerves.

“Toward the end of the first set we knew there was a good chance they were going to get that one,” said Hess of his quarterfinal match at Saturday’s South Area Tournament which serves as a qualifier for next week’s Central Section Championships. “We needed to regroup and get back in the present and not worry about the points we had already lost. That’s basically what we said to each other.”

On cue, the third-seeded Drillers’ tandem put those words into practice, rallying past No. 6 Jacob Cove and Himanshu Wahi for a hard-fought 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory at Stockdale to extend their season for another week.

“It feels great,” Dumatrait said. “We were confident coming in, but we obviously had a rocky start. After we got through that first set we had to pick it up, and we did. My old coach always tells us 'play to win, don’t play not to lose,' so we decided to just leave it all out there.”

Hess and Dumatrait opened tournament play with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over West High’s Max Pineda and Jayden Rodriguez on Friday afternoon, and followed that up with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Evan Mitchell and Ryan James early Saturday morning to reach the quarterfinals.

But the duo’s momentum came to an abrupt end in its next match, with Cove and Wahi dominating the opening set.

“In our first set, we definitely came out a little slow,” Malcolm Hess said. “We weren’t playing like we normally play. But in that second set we tried to just focus on the ball, focus on each other and not on what our opponents were doing. Just focusing on what we wanted the match to look like, not what it was looking like at that moment.”

After winning the second set to even the match, Hess and Dumatrait got together again during a long break before the third set, solidifying their game plan for the finale.

“Before the third set we had that long break and we talked,” Hess said. “We decided it was best that we just play like we normally do, just go with the flow, just be natural and it worked out.”

Now the two will prepare for their first trip to the section tournament, a two-day event May 10-11 in San Luis Obispo.

“It feels like all the hard work is starting to pay off,” Dumatrait said. “There’s more work to be done, but I feel good going into it. It should be fun, it’s been a fun ride.”

Hess is equally as excited.

“It’s great and it’s an honor,” Hess said. “We work hard all season and we’re proud to represent Bakersfield High School. Driller pride runs deep.”

In addition to Hess and Dumatrait, three other doubles teams and four singles players qualified to play next week.

The top-seeded doubles team of junior Zeb Duket and senior Austin Cusator made short work of the competition on Saturday. After receiving a first-round bye, the pair opened play with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Jobert Vios and Mason Carrera of Kennedy before posting a 6-0, 6-1 victory No. 9 Landon Huff and Ishaan Ghai of Centennial in the quarterfinals.

“It’s pretty nice to get through this and go through to Valley because we’re trying to win it this year because it’s my partner’s last year,” said Duket of Cusator, who he’s teamed up to finish fourth and third in the past two section doubles championships. “So we’re trying to go out with a bang.”

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Eagles boys tennis squad. Top-seeded BCHS will host No. 2 Hanford-Sierra Pacific for the Central Section Division II team championship on Tuesday. Bakersfield is looking for its third-straight section crown, having won D-III in 2022 and D-II last season.

“We kind of just look at it as one match at a time, and not worry about what’s ahead,” said Duket of the busy schedule of matches. “Just focus on the present.”

Three days later, Duket and Cusator will be back at in the individual tournament, with the tandem hoping to close their career with a doubles title.

“It’s really important,” Cusator said. “At the beginning of the season our main goal was to win a Valley title, for Zeb and I and for the team. And we have a shot to do that as a team and then Zeb and I are going to get back to work and I hope we can do well in Valley.”

No. 2-seeded Bryson Limpias and Josh Pacheco of Garces survived a scare from No. 7 Evan Noel and Ryan Rosales of Bakersfield High, advancing to the section tournament with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win. Limpias reached the quarterfinals in doubles last season with Nico Fanucchi, who graduated last year.

Liberty’s Keen Nguyen and Luca Garone also qualified for the section with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Chauncy Boggs and Eber Diaz of West. Nguyen also played in the section doubles tournament with Bradley Campoy.

In singles play, top-seeded Calvin Hibbard cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over No. 8 Nathan Oesch of BHS to reach his second-straight section tournament. He lost in the quarterfinals last year.

Hibbard will be joined by three others playing in their first section tournament. No. 2 Cade Hiebert from Bakersfield Christian defeated No. 7 Rafael Pantoja, 6-0, 6-2, with teammate David Hair, the No. 6 seed, upsetting No. 3 Clayton Villarreal of Frontier, 6-2, 6-2.

Stockdale’s Andrej Dojcinovski, who lost in the qualifying match in doubles play last year, qualified in singles with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Independence’s Crismay Alvarez.

Central Section South Area boys tennis tournament

At Stockdale High School


First round: Alfredo Flores, West d. Eric Nahama, Bakersfield, 6-0, 6-1; No. 9 Isaac Ocampo, Wasco d. Jesus Ortiz, South, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5; No. 8 Nathan Oesch, Bakersfield d. John Paul Flores, Stockdale, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; No. 5 Bryan Tran, Bakersfield Christian d. Abdiel Arroyo, Mira Monte, 6-2, 6-3; No. 12 Crismay Alvarez, Independence d. David Vasquez, Delano, 6-3, 6-3; Alejandro Castaneda, Mira Monte d. Eduardo Payan, Kennedy, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5); No. 4 Andrey Dojcinovski, Stockdale d. Luis Ortega, Delano, 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 Clayton Villarreal, Frontier d. James Adamson, Tehachapi, 6-0, 6-1; Kyle Oluoch, Stockdale d. Zion Ortiz, Arvin, 6-0, 6-0; No. 11 Jaden Lee, Liberty d. Seth Usrey, Taft, 6-0, 6-0; No. 6 David Hair, Bakersfield Christian d. Jose Rodriguez, South, 6-0, 6-1; No. 7 Rafael Pantoja, Arvin d. Antonio Maldonado, Wasco, 6-3, 6-1; No. 10 Arek Plate, Liberty, 6-0, 6-0; Octavio Dionico, Golden Valley d. Angel Gallardo, East, 6-0, 6-0. Byes: No. 1 Calvin Hibbard, Tehachapi; No. 2 Cade Hiebert, Bakersfield Christian.

Second round: Hibbard d. Flores, 6-0, 6-1; Oesch d. Ocampo, 6-2, 6-0; Alvarez d. Tran, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3; Jojcinovski d. Castaneda, 6-0, 6-2; Villarreal d. Oluoch, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4); Hair d. Lee, 6-4, 7-5; Pantoja d. Plate, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4); Hiebert d. Dionico, 6-0, 6-1.

Quarterfinals (Central Section qualifier)

No. 1 Hibbard d. No. 8 Oesch, 6-2, 6-3; No. 4 Dojcinovski d. No. 12 Alvarez, 6-4, 6-4; No. 6 Hair d. No. 3 Villarreal 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 Hiebert d. No. 7 Pantoja, 6-0, 6-2.


First round: Jobert Vios/Mason Carrera, Kennedy d. Yakrib Alshaif/Karlos Avila, Arvin, 6-3, 6-3; No. 9 Landon Huff/Ishaan Ghai, Centennial, d. Hector Cruz/Jan D. Martinez, Golden Valley, 6-1, 6-1; Adrian Araya/Stephen Underwood, Bakersfield Christian d. No. 8 John Igayac/Isaiah Vargas, Chavez; No. 5 Chancy Boggs/Eber Diaz, West d. Nicholas Contreras/Luke Litchfield, Wasco, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4; No. 12 SeanRyan Sandifer, Bakersfield, d. Jaime Peralta/Adrian Duran, Golden Valley, 6-1, 6-0; Damian Gonzalez/Erik Servin, East d. Israel Rodriguez/Anthony Parra, Arvin, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1; No. 4 Keen Nguyen/Luca Garone, Liberty, d. Diego Garcia/Rhyen Flores, Foothill, 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 Malcolm Hess/Maddox Dumatrait, Bakersfield d. Max Pineda/Jayden Rodriguez, West, 6-0, 6-0; Evan Mitchell/Ryan James, Liberty d. Eric Castillo/Sergio Acosta, Wasco, 6-3, 7-5; Beckham Rader/Eugene Mokri, Bakersfield Christian d. No. 11 Anthony Jimenez/AlexNewkirk, East, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3); No. 6 Jacob Cove/Himanshu Wahi, Liberty d. John Nicholas/Jose Sanchez, Chavez, default; No. 7 Evan Noel/Ryan Rosales, Bakersfield d. Andres Acevedo/Nathan Avila, West, 6-2, 6-3; No. 10 Andres Balderos/Oscar Serrano, Golden Valley d. Jose Ortega/Nathaniel Castillo, Delano, 7-5, 6-3; Nick Norris/Jeffrey Ren, Stockdale d. Christian Valencia/Noah Cervantes, East, 6-4, 6-2. Byes: No. 1 Zeb Duket/Austin Cusator, Bakersfield Christian; No. 2 Brysen Limpias/Josh Pacheco, Garces.

Second round: No. 1 Duket/Cusator d. Vios/Carrera 6-1, 6-1; No. 9 Huff/Ghai d. Araya/Underwood, 6-1, 6-3; No. 5 Boggs/Diaz d. No. 12 Sandifer/Carrisalez, 7-6 (7-1), 2-6, 6-2; No. 4 Nguyen/Garone d. Gonzalez/Servin, 6-2, 6-2; No. 3 Hess/Dumatrait d. Mitchell/James, 6-1, 7-5; No. 6 Cove/Wahi d. Rader/Mokri, 6-3, 6-3; No. 7 Noel/Rosales d. No. 10 Balderos/Cerrano, 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 Limpias/Pacheco d. Norris/Renn, 6-2, 6-1.

Quarterfinals (Central Section qualifier): No. 1 Duket/Cusator d. No. 9 Huff/Ghai, 6-0, 6-1; No. 4 Nguyen/Garone, Liberty, d. No. 5 Boggs/Diaz, 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 Hess/Dumatrait d. No. 6 Cove/Wahi, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4; No. 2 Limpias/Pacheco d. Noel/Rosales, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.