No matter that the Menlo School boys' tennis team does the rest of the season, it won't compare to what the Knights experienced at the prestigious Corona del Mar National All-American Tennis Tournament on Friday in Orange County.
With a fast-approaching storm threatening to wipe out Saturday's second day of the tournament, the schedule was changed with 31 of 32 matches matches played on Friday -- one was played Thursday.
"It was a marathon," said Menlo coach Bill Shine. "The boys played from 8 a.m. to 11 at night."
Fortunately for Menlo, the long day proved to be well worth it as the Knights won all four matches and captured the tournament title with a 5-4 victory over defending champion University of Irvine.
For the No. 2-seeded Knights, it was their second title in three years in the Newport Beach area.
"It was amazing," said Shine.
The final was a rematch of last year's tournament championship, which University won, 7-1. Menlo won the previous year -- also in a thrilling finale.
The 16-team tournament -- considered the high school national championships -- is hosted by Corona Del Mar High and the teams play at five venues in the area. The format is similar to that of collegiate matches: five singles and three doubles played in pro sets. If there is a tie, the games are counted. This year, because of the crammed schedule, each match was played to six points instead of eight to speed things up.
In the first round that started at 8 a.m., Menlo rolled over Jesuit of Carmichael, 8-0. The second match was not nearly as close. The Knights trailed 1-2 in the second match that began at 10:30 a.m., then prevailed over Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 5-3 in a "nail-biter." Menlo then topped Torrey Pines, 6-2, in the semifinals that started at 2 p.m.
Menlo was back on the courts at 8:30 p.m. against University, grabbing a 2-1 lead after doubles, then claimed half of its singles matches.
Menlo claimed the title despite not having senior Justin Chan, sidelined by illness, or freshman Victor Pham, out with an injury. David Ball and Vikram Chari filled in admirably to keep the Knights unbeaten this season at 11-0.
University, the No. 1 team in Orange County, played without All-American Gage Brymer, who was in Alabama playing in another event.
Menlo was the second-smallest school entered, with local Sage Hill (450 students) being the smallest. Rancho Bernardo and Torrey Pines were the largest at 2,780 students each.
The field also included Memphis University School from Tennessee, Brophy Prep from Arizona and Horace Mann School from New York.