Hancock College/s men/s tennis team faces the same situation this season as it has before.

The Bulldogs compete in a tough conference, and they have just five players.

At least the last part of the situation may change, first-year Hancock coach Christian Kelly said as his team was losing 7-2 to Bakersfield College in a Western State Conference match at the Hancock courts Thursday.

"I actually found a guy who runs on the cross country team who can play for us, Jose Solis," Kelly said. "I have no idea what his skill level is, but we/ll get him out here."

Hancock is 0-5 in the WSC and 0-7 overall. The match with Bakersfield was the end of the first round of conference matches for the Bulldogs.

"We/ve been giving up forfeits at No. 6 singles and No. 3 doubles," Kelly said. "We won/t have to do that anymore."

As for the guys Kelly has now, Davis Best had a part in each point the Bulldogs scored Thursday.

Best, Hancock/s No. 1 singles player, defeated Neeraj Pama 6-1, 6-0. He and Lewis Smith played a solid doubles match and beat Sol Le and Chris Palisan 8-3 at the No. 1 spot there.

"He/s feeling it today," Kelly said to Hancock singles player Emmanuel Llamas after Best swatted a forehand winner in his doubles match.

"We have been very competitive at the No. 1 doubles spot," said Kelly.

"It/ been very tough," Kelly, who works for Federal Express and coached in the Righetti girls tennis program last fall, said of what his players have faced this season.

"Other teams just have a lot more high schools to draw from," Kelly, who played tennis for Hancock in 1999 and 2000, said. "And a lot of the best high school players we have here get recruited," from other schools.

For various reasons, three players Kelly was counting on for this season didn/t come out. A fourth, who was to be Hancock/s No. 3 singles player, "decided he didn/t want to play two days before the season started," said Kelly.

Through it all, "The guys have kept a sense of humor about it," Kelly said. "Whether they/re winning or losing, they never get down on themselves. We/re improving every day."

Kelly/s own mood was light.

"Look at Steve Howell over there, leaning on his racket," Kelly said to Llamas during Howell/s and partner Randy Rasalan/s doubles match. "Hey, Steve!," Kelly yelled. "Look alive over there!

"See how he listens to me?," Kelly said to Llamas. "Look at him bouncing around out there now."

Hancock plays at Glendale at 2 p.m. next Thursday.

Women/s tennis

Hancock 9, Bakersfield 0

BAKERSFIELD 7 The Bulldog women ran the table to remain perfect in WSC play at 5-0.

Lori Valadez scored a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Lana Johnson at No. 1 singles, while No. 2 Monica Krier added 6-0, 6-2 win over BC/s Sarah Hickok.

In all, the Bulldogs dropped only 31 games in singles play to their own total of 73.

Baseball

Ventura 3, Hancock 2

VENTURA 7 Despite Adam Cole/s two hits, the Bulldogs suffered their first WSC loss of the year on only five hits against four Pirate pitchers.

Drew Bernier suffered the loss despite going six-plus innings for the Bulldogs (3-1, 6-4).

Hancock hosts Moorpark in WSC action at 1 p.m. Saturday.

UCSB 8, Cal Poly 3

SANTA BARBARA 7 The Gauchos limited the Mustangs to only seven hits in the first meeting of the year between the two Big West Conference teams.

UCSB (11-8) broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning, allowing Michael Martin to improve to 5-0 by allowing three runs on six hits in six innings, striking out three.

Cal Poly (17-8-1) got two hits and two RBIs out of Chalon Tietje.

The series continues tonight at 6 p.m. at Cal Poly/s Baggett Stadium.

March 12, 2004

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