Menlo boys will play for a sixth straight CCS tennis title

Hot weather couldn't stop the Menlo School boys tennis team on Wednesday, nor could Bellarmine Prep in the Central Coast Section Team Tournament semifinals.

It was 98 degrees in Los Gatos as the Knights wrapped up their 6-1 victory over the Bells at Courtside Club. Temperatures on the hardcourts probably felt higher.

Nothing, however, seems to faze Menlo in its annual march to the section finals. The top-seeded Knights (20-3) will play for a sixth straight CCS crown on Friday, taking on No. 2-seeded Saratoga (20-0) at Courtside Club at 1:30 p.m.

The teams should enjoy the forecast of 84-degree weather after battling extreme heat Wednesday.

The Falcons advanced by ending No. 3 Menlo-Atherton's fine run, 5-2, at the Los Gatos Swim & Racquet Club.

Menlo and Saratoga will be meeting for the first time this season and in the section title match for the third time in the past 10 years. The Knights prevailed in 2010 by a 4-3 count with the Falcons posting a 6-1 win in 2004.

Menlo will be gunning for its 13th overall CCS title. Should the Knights win their sixth straight crown, they will tie themselves (1998-2003), Monta Vista (1997-2002) and Palo Alto (1991-96) for the second-most in section history. Gunn won seven straight from 1972-78, a record within Menlo's grasp.

Menlo played without No. 1 singles player Victor Pham, who suffered a hip-flexor injury on Sunday and was relegated to doubles on Monday. The Knights also missed No. 2 singles player Lane Leschly, who was struck in the head by his surfboard recently and suffered concussion symptoms.

Even without those two, Menlo swept the singles behind David Ball (6-3, 6-1), Vikram Chari (6-1, 6-2), Gunther Matta (6-2, 6-1) and Nathan Safran (6-1, 6-2), the latter of whom normally plays at No. 1 doubles.

In the other semifinal, Menlo-Atherton and Saratoga battled extreme heat and each other in a match that could have gone either way.

After the first four matches were completed, all in straight sets, the score stood 2-2. At that point, the first three singles matches were split and headed to third sets. Saratoga prevailed by winning all three. M-A senior Scott Morris had three match points to win the second set at No. 1, but let the advantage slip away. He wound up losing, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

"I didn't see it," said M-A co-head coach Carlos Aguilar. "The other kid is good at receiving and I guess Scott got a little conservative."

Had Morris won, the outcome of the match would have been decided by No. 3 singles, which went to a third set and eventually won by Saratoga.

M-A took No. 1 doubles behind Saul Menjivar and Axel Brenner and No. 4 singles with freshman Casey Morris posting the win.

The showdown was a rematch of a preseason tournament date that saw the Falcons beat the Bears, 6-1. M-A was missing three players in that meeting.

"This is a completely different team," said Aguilar, who called the 2014 squad the deepest he has ever coached. "We're shooting for a seventh straight PAL title next season. The coaches were excited about this season and we're just as excited for next year."

— Palo Alto Online Sports


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous MA player
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2014 at 7:01 pm

There were 3 three setters in this match, at number 1, 2 and 3 singles. WE SHOULD OF HAD IT
Anonymous MA player :)

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