slynch@mercedsunstar.comOctober 15, 2012 

Charlotte Sofranek knows all about timing.

The Merced senior got hot at the right time a year ago and rode that momentum to a Central California Conference tennis singles title.

Sofranek is hoping some elevated play down the stretch of this year's conference season is a sign she's ready for a similar run.

"I think it wasn't quite as slow a start last year, but hopefully this year it's coming on at the right time," Sofranek said. "I think the tournament should be interesting.

"Last year, Britney (Leon) went undefeated, so she was clearly the head of the pack. This year all of the No. 1 singles have seemed to beat each other, so it's been really competitive."

Merced has already grabbed a share of its first CCC team title in six years, splitting the honor with Turlock. Sofranek repeating as the champion would be a nice bonus, but as was the case a year ago, there are no easy roads to the title.

Sofranek is expected to be one of the top four seeds along with Turlock's Natalia Lima (whom Sofranek beat in last year's final), Pitman's Leon and Golden Valley's Lindsay Robson.

The top-four finishers in league get to have three representatives in the 16-player field, and the bottom two schools each get two. Once the seeds are chosen, matchups are drawn out of a hat.

Merced will host the first three rounds of the CCC Singles Tournament today. The first serve is set for 9 a.m. The championship match and CCC Doubles Tournament will take place on Thursday.

The 2011 version had a number of early upsets and plenty of twists. With another competitive conference season in the books, Bears coach Keith Tetangco thinks this year could be just as unpredictable.

"League was really tight this year," Tetangco said. "A lot of No. 1 singles matches ended up going three sets.

"The girls that will probably be the top four seeds all participated and had some success last year, so it could be anyone's tournament.

"Some of the No. 2s could really push the top seeds, so it really comes down to the draw and who is playing well."

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