Menlo School senior Elizabeth Yao won the third set of the final match to carry the No. 5-seeded Knights' tennis squad to a 4-3 upset of No. 1 Saratoga in the semifinals of the Central Coast Section Girls Team Tennis Tournament on Monday at Bay Club Courtside in Los Gatos.
Menlo (19-4) trailed Saratoga (22-2) by 3-2 with Yao and her sophomore sister, Alice, playing third sets at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively. Alice prevailed in her showdown with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory, tying the match at 3 and shining the spotlight on her sister.
With everything riding on her match, Elizabeth finished off a 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-3 triumph to send Menlo into the championship match Tuesday against No. 3 St. Francis (19-6), a 4-3 winner over No. 2 St. Ignatius (22-3) in the other semifinal.
Menlo coach Bill Shine said he was not shocked by the victory, which ranks as the most significant of the girls' season.
"A little bit," Shine said of perhaps being surprised by the huge victory. "But, with this group, they have risen to the occasion over and over. They have a knack for doing that; everyone played well enough to pull out a win. It's really special."
Menlo actually trailed by 3-1 before the No. 1 doubles team of Sadie Bronk and Mia McConnell posted a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) victory that saw the Knights behind 4-1 in the first set and 6-5 in the second before rallying.
Due to a threat of rain on Wednesday, the championship match was moved up a day. First serves still will be at 1:30 p.m. Both the Knights and Lancers have met once before this season, with the Lancers pulling out a 4-3 nonleague win.
"We talked on the bus (Monday), and we want to right that ship where we lost to them," Shine said.
No matter what happens Tuesday, both teams will advance to the CIF NorCal Championships. Menlo is looking for its first CCS title since 2005 and the eighth section crown in program history.
2014 CCS GIRLS TEAM TENNIS PLAYOFFS
Tuesday's first round
Evergreen Valley 7, Carlmont 0
Sacred Heart Prep 5, Milpitas 2
Carmel; 5, Palo Alto 2
St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic 4, Santa Catalina 3
Harker 4, York School 3
R.L. Stevenson 5, Piedmont Hills 2
Soquel 4, Salinas 3
Burlingame 7, Alisal 0
Wednesday's second round
Monta Vista 6, Evergreen Valley 1
St. Francis 6, Sacred Heart Prep 1
Menlo-Atherton 4, Carmel 3
St. Ignatius 7, St. Francis-CCC 0
Menlo School 7, Harker 0
Mitty 7, R.L. Stevenson 0
Leland 4, Soquel 3
Saratoga 7, Burlingame 0
St. Francis 5, Monta Vista 2
St. Ignatius 5, Menlo-Atherton 2
Menlo School 5, Mitty 2
Saratoga 5, Leland 2
No. 5 Menlo School 4, No. 1 Saratoga 3
No. 3 St. Francis 4, No. 2 St. Ignatius 3
==B Tuesday at Bay Club Courtside, 1:30 p.m.
Menlo School (19-4) vs. St. Francis (19-6)