Despite missing a trio of players, including No. 1 singles player Andrew Ball, the Menlo School boys' tennis team captured its fourth consecutive CIF NorCal championship by defeating Bellarmine, 5-2, on Saturday at the Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento.
Menlo wrapped up an incredible season in which it won the All-American National Invitational state tournament, won the Central Coast Section title and capped it with the NorCal crown to finish 28-0.
This Menlo team is the first in school history to win four straight CCS and NorCal titles and the third to finish the season unbeaten.
The Knights also produced the best four-year record in school history (110-3), topping the 95-4 mark from 1997-2000, which marked coach Bill Shine's first four seasons at Menlo.
And the Knights accomplished all this without their strongest lineup.
"We were short-handed, but they still came through," Menlo coach Shine said about his three juniors who didn't make the trip in order to take the SAT, a make-up exam scheduled after Palo Alto High had to cancel the original test May 5 when a school-wide alarm forced evacuation of classrooms shortly after students had begun testing. In addition to Ball, No. 1 doubles player Daniel Morkovine missed the tourney along with Eric Miller.
"They were phenomenal," Shine said of the players who made the trip.
The Knights topped the Bells earlier this season, 7-0, with nearly their full team in place.
On Saturday, it was Menlo junior Richard Pham who defeated Trevor James 7-5, 7-5 at the top singles spot. Senior Justin Chan, who is headed to Dartmouth, won 6-4, 6-1 at No. 2. Menlo freshman Victor Pham fell 7-5, 6-3, but sophomore David Ball picked up a 7-5, 6-0 victory at fourth singles.
"I thought David Ball at No. 4 singles had a huge match," Shine said. "The top singles were on top of their game, then the doubles clinched it for us."
Menlo juniors Michael Hoffman and William Boyd sealed the NorCal victory with a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles. Freshman Vikram Chari and senior co-captain Zach Chase wrapped up a 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 decision at No. 2 doubles. Menlo's only other loss came at No. 3 doubles where Ryan Miller and Gunther Matta fell, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
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