A Central Catholic High School boys doubles team was disqualified from the Valley Oak League tennis tournament Thursday for making a racist comment during its semifinal match in Manteca.
The comment was over a line call. In high school, tennis players are on the honor system and serve as their own officials.
Early in a contentious battle with a team from Manteca High, one member of the top-seeded and defending champion Central Catholic team shouted, “Why don’t you open your eyes! … Oh, wait.”
Both members of the Manteca doubles team are of Asian descent.
The remark was loud enough for coaches, fans and a Manteca Bulletin reporter to hear, some as far as two courts away.
Tournament director Jason Furtado was getting ready to step in as a line judge for the match when the remark was made.
Furtado called off the match and called East Union athletic director J.J. Ramirez and Central Catholic athletic director Billy Hylla. Both seconded Furtado’s decision to “pull them off the court,” Furtado said.
The disqualification ended the season for the Raiders’ touted twosome. Manteca will advance both of its doubles teams to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II tournament at Johnson Ranch Racquet Club in Roseville on May 15-16.
According to Furtado, the USTA penalty for offensive language is the loss of one point, but he believed the remark required a disqualification.
An instructor at Weston Ranch, Furtado said if a student were to make a similar comment in his classroom, he or she would be removed and likely face disciplinary action from the school. That course of action was echoed by several teachers in attendance.
When contacted by The Bee, Hylla and Manteca tennis coach Frank Fontana declined comment. Furtado was also unavailable for further comment.
This is the third time in eight months a Central Catholic athletic program is receiving negative attention.
In September, 19 players on the varsity football team were suspended for a half against St. Mary’s after breaking curfew the previous week during an overnight road trip to the Honor Bowl in Southern California.
In January, two players on the boys basketball team – one a starter and one a reserve – were removed from the roster for violating an unspecified team rule.
Also, authorities last April arrested two 16-year-old boys in connection with a racially charged death threat video sent to one of their Central Catholic classmates.
When reached on Thursday, Hylla declined to address Thursday’s incident – specifically, whether the school would seek further discipline – before speaking with the players, coach and school officials.
“No comment, across the board,” Hylla said.