By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The current seniors on the Menlo School boys' tennis team have pretty much done it all. They've won three straight titles in West Bay Athletic League, three straight Central Coast Section and NorCal championships.
The Knights, however, still have plenty of other goals yet to achieve this season and are on track to do just that.
The Menlo seniors will take a three-year plus record of 91-1 into this weekend's National Invitational Boys Team Tennis Tournament hosted by Corona del Mar High. No group of Menlo seniors has ever played 92 matches with just one loss.
The Knights also will be seeking to defend their tournament title, something no Menlo team has ever achieved. Menlo won this tourney in 2010, finished second in 2011 and won last year. Reaching the finals on Saturday for a fourth straight season also will be a first for coach Bill Shine's squad.
And, speaking of Shine, he takes a record of 387-41 in 17 seasons into the weekend. He's 13 victories shy of 400 wins with the Menlo boys. Should the Knights successfully defend their title and keep winning, No. 400 could arrive on April 19 with a home match against Clovis.
All the streaks and records, however, hinge on this weekend. Despite being the defending champ,
Menlo is seeded only No. 2 behind University (Irvine).
"I don't care," Shine said of the seeding slight. "Now the boys are motivated."
Surprisingly, the No. 1 seed has never won this tournament, now in its 14th year.
Menlo, seeded No. 2 last year, will begin its quest to repeat on Friday morning against Gilman School of Baltimore, Md. A victory will move the Knights into an afternoon match against either Potomac (Md.) or Brophy Prep (Ariz.). Both first-day matches are at Corona del Mar.
Saturday could find Menlo matched against No. 3 Corona del Mar at The Tennis Club while the finals are set for the Palisades Tennis Club at 3 p.m.
Joining Menlo from the Central Coast Section will be Bellarmine Prep, the No. 4 seed. The field features 16 teams, six from outside California. The winner thus becomes the unofficial national champion, since there are no other tournaments like this in the country.
Menlo is led by seniors Andrew Ball, Daniel Morkovine and Richard Pham. All were named the the All-Tournament Team last year. Michael Hoffman, William Boyd and Eric Miller also are seniors.
"This particular group gets it," Shine said. "We talked about their legacy and how they want to be remembered down the line."
The Knights breezed to a pair of 7-0 victories in WBAL matches against Crystal Springs and Pinewood this week, losing a total of only 17 games and one set. After each win, the Knights were back on the courts practicing. Last week, in a 7-0 win over King's Academy, Menlo dropped only two games.
"The reason why they're good is because they have pride," Shine said of his team.