This Senior Day for the Menlo boys' tennis team was a little big different. Instead of the team and parents honoring the four-year players, it was just the opposite -- the seniors did what they had to do to honor their teammates and coach.
Menlo seniors Daniel Hoffman, Max Glenn and Ryan Duggal did that by all having a hand in victories while leading the top-seeded Knights to a 4-3 victory over No. 2 Bellarmine on Friday in the Central Coast Section team championship match at the Courtside Club in Los Gatos. The final score was not reflective of the match as Menlo clinched quickly at 4-0.
The Knights improved to 24-2 while winning their eighth CCS crown while the Bells fell to 22-2, their only two losses to Menlo. Both teams now advance to the NorCal Tournament that begins next Friday in Oakley, where Menlo and Bellarmine will likely meet again in the finals.
Should that happen as expected, Menlo can count on its seniors to lead the way.
"Without them," Menlo coach Bill Shine said of the three seniors who played Friday (Jay Baxter was the lone senior who did not), "we just don't get it done. This doesn't happen without our seniors. They were the ones who had that determination in their eyes. They were not going to go down."
After junior Jamin Ball won quickly by beating Ian Clark, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 2 singles, Glenn gave Menlo a 2-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph at No. 3 singles against Michael Chang.
Moments later, Duggal teamed with sophomore Kyle Sum to wrap up their No. 2 doubles match over brothers Alex and Tommy Wall, 6-2, 6-4. That made it 3-0 with Hoffman closing in on the final point.
Hoffman, playing No. 1 singles, battled back from an early deficit in the first set to defeat Eric Johnson, 6-3, 6-1. Johnson had beaten Hoffman during the team's dual match, which Menlo won by 5-2.
No sooner had Hoffman shaken hands with Johnson that he was mobbed by his teammates in a wild celebration.
"I actually thought we had won," said Hoffman, who had no idea he was going to be the clinching point until he noticed all his teammates moving over to his court to watch. "I figured it out pretty quickly."
As quickly as he figured out he was the clinching match, he clinched it.
"My sophomore year (in 2007) I won my match (during a 5-2 win over Bellarmine), but I didn't clinch it. I was pretty pumped. This is what we've been working for all year."
Hoffman said there was no way the Knights were going to lose on Friday.
"We weren't going to come in here as the No. 1 seed and lose CCS," Hoffman said.
Menlo was a three seed in '07 when it won CCS and then beat the Bells again in the NorCal final.
For Glenn, the CCS title made up for the one he missed during basketball season. He tore meniscus in his right knee during the season and missed the Knights' CCS Division IV championship game. In fact, it was first thought that Glenn might miss the entire tennis season. But, he recovered quickly and helped make a big impact on the tennis team, which won its 16th straight on Friday.
"This definitely does make up for it," Glenn said of the missed opportunity in basketball. "Especially after it was thought I was going to miss the season. It feels really great. Coming in, our goal was to get our last CCS title in high school."
Duggal was equally pleased to contribute this season, after Menlo was beaten in the semifinals last season. The seniors pretty much vowed not to let that happen again.
"We were really fired up to win, especially with all the disappointment of last year."
CCS Team Championship
At Courtside Club, Los Gatos
Menlo 4, Bellarmine 3
Singles -- Hoffman (M) d. Johnson, 6-3, 6-4; Ball (M) d. Clark, 6-2, 6-1; Glenn (M) d. Chang, 6-2, 6-2; Taylor (B) d. P. Chase, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles -- Schoebel-James (B) d. Chan-Carlisle, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; Duggal-Sum (M) d. T. Wall-A. Wall, 6-2, 6-4; Geiger-Chung (B) d. Katsman-Peltz, 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.
Records: Menlo 24-2; Bellarmine 22-2