For the first time since they won four consecutive CIF NorCal tennis titles from 1998-2001, the Menlo School girls captured the regional crown with a 5-2 win over St. Francis on Thursday night at Fremont Tennis Center.
It was the third time the teams have me this season. The Knights previously lost an early season match before avenging that defeat with a 5-2 triumph in the Central Coast Section Team Tournament finale.
"This is definitely the best they have played all year," said Menlo coach Bill Shine, whose team finished 23-4. "They weren't rusty (with all the weather breaks), they kept focused and stayed completely engaged. I'm just so proud of them."
In a match twice rescheduled and moved due to weather, top-seed Menlo defeated No. 5 Miramonte, 6-1, in the semifinal and No. 3 St. Francis downed No. 2 Monte Vista (Danville) 5-2 to advance to the finals.
Against the Lancers, the Knights went ahead 2-1 when the doubles teams of Mia McConnell and Sadie Bronk (No. 1) and Schuyler Tilney-Volk and Melissa Tran (No. 2) came off the courts with victories. Then, within a 30-second span, the No. 3 doubles Kaitlin Hao and Kathryn Wilson triumphed and once again, senior Elizabeth Yao clinched the victory at No. 1 singles, and Georgia Anderson added a victory at No. 3 singles.
Menlo now has a pair of tennis NorCal titles in the same calendar year as the boys team, which Shine also coaches, won their sixth consecutive NorCal championship in May.
"After coming so close last year (finalist) and seeing the boys win, they were so excited to bring the trophy back home," he said.
Bronk and Elizabeth Yao are the only seniors on a team loaded with underclassmen yet this team ended a decade-long hiatus.
"That is the biggest factor," Shine said about the team's unified chemistry."There were a lot of new girls on the team, and we were trying to figure out how they were going to mesh."
It never was even an issue. The team sailed through the regular season with a perfect 10-0 mark, went in to CCS seeded No. 5, then won its first section title since 2005 before storming through NorCals.
"This team has high expectations, and they all really want to win for themselves and each other," Shine said. "This is what team is about."