Menlo School girls gain redemption with CCS tennis title


It was all about redemption as the Menlo School girls took to the courts at Bay Club Courtside in Los Gatos for the Central Coast Section Girls Tennis Team Tournament finale on Tuesday.

The Knights took on No. 3 St. Francis seeded only No. 5, the lowest seed ever to make the section final. They also needed to avenge an earlier loss to the Lancers, which eventually affected that seeding.

And, to top it off, Menlo senior Elizabeth Yao wanted to redeem herself for the 2013 CCS final that saw her three-set loss as the decider in a 4-3 setback to Monta Vista.

Menlo took care of redemption with a 5-2 victory, giving the Knights their first section title since 2005 and the eighth overall -- the most in CCS history.

Yao, meanwhile, produced a 6-3, 6-4 victory at No. 1 singles over St. Francis freshman Cate Liston to clinch the victory.

"This is extra nice for me just as redemption," said Yao, who also clinched Menlo's 4-3 upset of top-seeded Saratoga on Monday.

Menlo (20-4) now heads into the CIF/USTA Northern California Regional Championships that begin Friday at the Natomas Racquet Club in Sacramento. The Knights are the top seed while the Lancers (19-7) are No. 3.

Both have first-round byes. Menlo faces either Skyline or Chico on Friday at 1 p.m., with St. Francis opening against Rocklin. The No. 2 seed is Monte Vista (Danville). The title match is Saturday at 2 p.m.

Menlo is looking for its first NorCal title since winning four straight from 1998-2001.

Perhaps this is the year. After all, getting past top seed Saratoga as the No. 5 seed was perhaps unexpected.

"To come from the No. 5 seed, I don't think its been done," said Menlo coach Bill Shine.

After winning CCS titles from 1997-2002 and again in 2005, the Menlo girls hit a dry spell as Monta Vista became the dominant team. But, as Shine said, "It wasn't like we went somewhere. It's just that it's really hard to win this tournament.

"I know things go in cycles, but they've been knocking on the door."

That door opened this season, just in time to send the seniors -- Yao and Sadie Bronk -- out with a long-awaited section crown.

"It's so nice for the girls, because they hear about the (Menlo) boys all the time," said Shine. "They hear stuff like, 'Oh, you used to be good back in the day.' "

No longer, as the Knights are back on top after surviving one of the most competitive section tournaments in history.

"Everybody at the seeding meeting knew it was going to be different," Shine said. "seeding 1 through 5 was really tough. I'm almost glad we got the No. 5 seed. They (his girls) knew they were better than that."

The Knights proved that Tuesday as sophomore Alice Yao gave her team a quick 1-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Amy Burke at No. 2 singles. The No. 1 doubles team of Bronk and junior Mia McConnell made it 2-0 with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph and Menlo's No. 3 doubles tandem of sophomores Kaitlin Hao and Alex Edidin produced a 6-1, 6-2 triumph for a 3-0 lead.

Edidin was a late addition to the tandem when Kathryn Wilson was injured in Monday's match.

St. Francis got on the board when Illina Yang won at No. 4 singles, setting the stage for Elizabeth Yao to fittingly clinch. Menlo's No. 2 doubles team of juniors Melissa Tran and Schuyler Tilney-Volk provided the final point by remaining unbeaten this season with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory.

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