The Palo Alto and Menlo-Atherton girls tennis teams both have one regular-season league match remaining next week. Those matches, however, won't have much impact on the rest of the season.
Given the opportunity to wrap up their respective league championships on Thursday, both teams responded to the challenge and came away as champions.
Palo Alto defeated visiting Santa Clara, 5-2, to win the SCVAL El Camino Division title and Menlo-Atherton whipped visiting Carlmont, 6-1, to claim the PAL Bay Division crown.
Both teams earned automatic berths into the Central Coast Section playoffs that begin next month. All that remains right now are perfect league seasons.
Palo Alto (11-0, 14-4) can finish perfect by beating host Cupertino next Thursday after first playing Gunn in a nonleague match on Tuesday. Menlo-Atherton (13-0, 15-6) can do the same by beating host Woodside on Tuesday.
Palo Alto is competing in the El Camino Division this season by choice. The Vikings had a good enough record to remain in the upper (and tougher) De Anza Division.
"Nobody wants to go down to the El Camino," said Paly coach Andy Harader. "But, because we had graduated eight of my 10 starters. If we had stayed in the De Anza, it would have been real dim. It was our choice to be here; thought it was a more positive approach to the season.
"Our season would be over next week if we were in the De Anza Division."
While the Vikings have been perfect in league, it hasn't been a breeze.
"The other coaches were going, 'hey, you're too strong to be here,' " related Harader. "But, we've had four 4-3 matches, so it's not like its been handed to us."
Paly had back-to-back 4-3 wins, over second-place Milpitas and then Mountain View. In both matches, the No. 1 doubles team of freshman Jackie Cai and senior Madeline Lee clinched each time.
That duo won again Thursday as Paly had a much-easier day on the court. No. 1 singles player Avanika Narayan didn't play, but the Vikings still had enough to prevail and win their second El Camino Division title in program history.
Harader had all five of his seniors -- Lucy Fox, Haley Fulker, Claire Priestly, Sarah Tayeri and Lee -- see action in their final regular-season home match.
Just a few miles away, Menlo-Atherton rose to the challenge against second-place Carlmont and wrapped up the PAL Bay Division title. The Bears jumped on the visitors for the second time this season, sweeping the singles to get things rolling. Freshman Lanie Van Linge led the way with a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 1 singles.
Senior captain Sami Andrew overcame some disputed line calls at No. 2 and posted a 7-5, 6-3 triumph to remain unbeaten in league play this season. Freshman Julia Marks, who had been injured recently, returned to the lineup and registered a 6-3, 6-3 win while Laila Volpe provided a 7-5, 6-1 win at No. 4 to help wrap things up.
In Palo Alto, Menlo School clinched no worse than a tie for their 19th straight league title under coach Bill Shine following a 7-0 blanking of host Castilleja in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) tennis action at Rinconada Park. The Knights (8-0, 14-4) hold a two-match lead over second-place Sacred Heart Prep with two to play. Menlo now has won 216 straight league dual matches, an ongoing state record for girls.
In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep (6-2, 14-4) all but wrapped up second place in the WBAL Foothill Division with a 7-0 victory over King's Academy. Sarah Choy, Melina Stavropoulos, Tara Ritchey and Alison McLaughlin swept the singles for SHP.
In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood swept the singles on the way to a 6-1 victory over visiting Notre Dame-San Jose in WBAL Skyline Division action. Julia Owens, Leah Hess, Hannah Manheim and Karina Uppal led the Panthers (5-1, 10-6).
Gunn wrapped up a perfect season in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League with a 228-273 victory over Monta Vista at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club on Thursday.
The Titans finished the regular season 14-0 (15-1 overall) as senior Anna Zhou shot a 1-over 37 on the front nine. Tiffany Yang carded a 44, Lianna McFarlane-Connelly added a 48, Kaelyn McFarlane-Connelly shot 49 and Mika Isayama added a 50 as coach Chris Redfield was able to get his reserve players some action.
In Sunnyvale, Palo Alto put the finishing touches on a 12-2 season in the SCVAL (13-2 overall) by posting a 216 score to beat Homestead (261) and Wilcox (298) in a tri-match at Sunnyvale Muni. Freshman Stephanie Yu and Emily Hwang led the Vikings with matching 41s with Elise Kiya shooting 42, Candace Wang 43 and Alice On 49.
Both Gunn and Palo Alto will compete in the SCVAL Tournament on Tuesday at Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose, starting at 10:30 a.m.
In San Mateo, Sacred Heart Prep wrapped up the runner-up spot in the WBAL race with a 213-242 dual-match victory over host Mercy-Burlingame on Thursday at Poplar Creek Golf Course. The Gators (7-2-1, 9-3-1) were led by Lauren von Thaden's 4-over 39 and Cami Steppe's 41. Next up will be the WBAL Tournament next Wednesday at Poplar Creek (noon), where the Gators need to shine in hopes of gaining an at-large berth into the CCS Tournament.
Menlo School held on to a share of first place in the WBAL Foothill Division following a 25-19, 25-17, 25-23 victory over host Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday night. The Knights moved to 6-1 in league (16-14 overall) and remained tied with Harker for the top spot with three matches remaining.
Menlo completed a season swept of the Gators (2-5, 15-11) as Lida Vandermeet had 13 kills and four blocks while fellow senior Elisa Merten contributed 33 assists. Jessica Houghton finished with 14 digs and eight kills for Menlo with Payton Mack adding nine kills and three blocks. Caroline Bradley added 14 digs.
Sacred Heart Prep, which lost for the second straight match and for the fifth time in the past seven, got 11 kills and 13 digs from Victoria Garrick and 23 assists from fellow senior Natalie Marshall. Kendall Reich contributed nine kills and Mamie Caruso added 14 digs.
In other WBAL Foothill Division action, host Castilleja (1-6, 13-17) dropped a 25-21, 25-14, 25-14 decision to Mercy-San Francisco.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Pinewood moved to 5-2 in league (13-6 overall) with a 25-12, 25-9, 25-17 victory over host Priory. Sam McCabe and Samantha Sargent had 13 digs for Priory.
In the PAL Bay Division, visiting Menlo-Atherton rolled to a 25-12, 25-13, 25-23 victory over Terra Nova as sophomore setter Kirby Knapp produced 33 assists with Jackie DiSanto and Kaitlin Tavarez each providing 11 digs. Leanna Collins led the Bears (10-0, 21-3) with 15 kills while hitting .500. Ally Ostrow had eight kills and seven digs as M-A remained the only undefeated team in the division.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto beat last-place Monta Vista for the second time, 25-23, 26-24, 25-14. Anna Dukovic led the Vikings (2-6, 16-9) with 11 kills while fellow senior Jade Schoenberger added 10 kills, 12 digs and five aces. Jessica Lee produced 21 assists for Paly, which still trails Los Altos (9-0), Homestead (6-2), Los Gatos (6-2), Mountain View (3-5) and Gunn (3-6) in league play.
Boys water polo
With Quinn Hamilton scoring six goals, Gunn clinched no worse than a tie for the regular-season title in the SCVAL De Anza Division race with a 21-7 victory over host Saratoga on Thursday night.
The Titans moved to 10-0 in league (12-6 overall) with two matches remaining. Gunn can clinch the outright title by beating second-place Mountain View on Tuesday. The Titans also hold the tiebreaker over the Spartans. Gunn has earned the No. 1 seed for the league playoffs, a bye into the semifinals and has clinched an automatic berth into the CCS playoffs. Calder Hilde-Jones added four goals against the Falcons with Ari Wayne tossing in three.
Girls water polo
Another solid defensive performance carried Gunn to a 5-2 victory over host Saratoga on Thursday, clinching no worse than a tie for the SCVAL De Anza Division regular-season title and No. 1 seed for the league playoffs.
The Titans (10-0, 15-3) have a two-game lead over Los Gatos (plus the tiebreaker) with two matches remaining. Gunn has a bye in the first round along with earning an automatic berth into the CCS playoffs. Nia Gardner led the way against Saratoga with two goals. Gunn can win the outright title by beating visiting Mountain View on Tuesday night (6:45 p.m.).
"We haven't had a dull moment all season," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "This group plays consistently tough defense, and we're taking strides on the offensive end every game. I really do believe that our best games are ahead of us."