MANTECA -- Mostafa Aniss knows foes aren't intimidated by his 17-7 record as Manteca High's No. 1 player, but he points out that success and failure in team tennis isn't based on one player.
There is little difference in the skills of Manteca's top five players, the Valley Oak League singles champion said, and that will be to the Buffaloes' benefit today when they play host to Pioneer High of Woodland.
"Whoever plays No. 1 is probably going to lose, seeing as how every No. 1 from the (Sacramento) schools is ridiculously good," said Aniss, whose brother Yassen plays No. 2 singles. "Myself, my brother, and Gabe (Lopez) are going to have a tough time.
"The pressure is on our Nos. 4, 5 and 6, and doubles. Those are matches our team needs to win."
Depth is paramount in the Sac-Joaquin Section team playoffs, which open today with seven matches in three divisions featuring Stanislaus District teams.
Manteca (26-2) established itself as the district's best team by beating perennial power Modesto and Central California Conference runner-up Turlock in the expanded nine-match meetings.
Teams play only five matches in VOL events, three singles and two doubles, but the section playoffs feature a nine-match format of six singles and three doubles.
Many Sacramento leagues use seven- or nine-match formats.
"The most difficult part of facing Sacramento-area schools is they play the nine-match format," Manteca coach Frank Fontana said. "The teams they have are established. With us ... playing five matches, then moving to nine, that is multiple players who haven't played as many matches and moving guys (from) doubles into singles."
There also is gamesmanship, Fontana said, when creating the "ladder" -- the order in which players are seeded. Moving the No. 4 player to No. 1, for example, could mean giving away the first singles but could lead to easy wins at the other spots.
"Most coaches play in strength of order," Fontana said. "Tennis is a game of honor. Now, in saying this, the team we played last year had a questionable order."
Fontana said his ladder will be similar to the regular season with the Aniss brothers in the top two spots, followed by Lopez.