Sports

Gunn girls have shot at ending CCS tennis droughts

 

The last time the Gunn girls played in a Central Coast Section Team Tournament title match was 1993. The last time the Titans won the championship was 1992. Those droughts have a chance to end on Saturday.

The No. 4-seeded Titans put themselves in that position by holding off unseeded Leland, 4-3, on Thursday in the section quarterfinals on Gunn's courts.

Gunn (19-4) now has the unenviable task of facing defending champion Menlo School (21-1) in one semifinal on Saturday at Monta Vista High in Cupertino at 9 a.m. The Knights reached the semifinals with a 6-1 victory over Harker in Atherton.

In the other semifinal, No. 2 Los Gatos (14-3) will face No. 3 Saratoga (18-4) at Lynbrook High at 9 a.m. That winner will face the Gunn-Menlo winner at Monta Vista at 2 p.m.

Gunn, which shared the SCVAL El Camino Division title this season (with Cupertino), has played only one of the semifinalists -- Los Gatos. The Wildcats won the nonleague test, 5-2.

The Titans, however, have survived two back-to-back 4-3 matches to get this far and that has Menlo coach Bill Shine concerned.

"It will be tough," Shine said of facing the Titans. "Their top three are really good."

And young. Gunn features one sophomore (Julia Pham at No. 1) and three freshmen in singles -- Anna Yu, Olivia Aspegren and Yarden Gaffan.

On Thursday, Yu provided the clincher after getting help from the No. 2 doubles team of juniors Lucy Fan and Victoria Helmer, who rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the third set to prevail 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to deadlock the match at 3.

Yu then bounced back from a 3-0 deficit in the third set to finish off a 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3 comeback victory at No. 2 singles -- sending the Titans to the semifinals.

"What an amazing match today," said Gunn coach Jim Gorman.

While singles has carried Gunn much of the season, the doubles were crucial on Wednesday. The Titans' No. 1 tandem of Quinn McGannon and Lena Ye held on for a 7-5, 7-5 victory. Gunn also got a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 triumph at No. 4 singles by Gaffan to help the Titans advance after falling behind by 3-2.

Menlo School will hold an edge in big-match experience over Gunn when they meet, despite having two freshmen in the singles lineup. Both won against Harker as Ashley Vielma battled for a 7-5, 6-2 win at No. 1 and Taylor Gould posted a 6-0, 6-2 triumph at No. 2 as Menlo defeated its WBAL rival for a third time this season.

Alice Yao, who has played both No. 1 and 2 singles for Menlo this season, missed her second straight match due to illness.

Seniors Melissa Tran and Mia McConnell came in with the first at No. 1 doubles (6-0, 6-2) before Schuyler Tilney-Volk and Kathryn Wilson won 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2 doubles. Georgia Anderson picked up the third win and Elika Eshghi secured the Knights' fourth victory, also winning 6-1, 6-0, to wrap things up.

Seventh-seeded Menlo-Atherton (19-5) saw its season end in the 5-2 loss to Los Gatos.

Football

With the start of the new-look CCS playoffs starting next week, local prep football teams will make their final tuneups on Friday night.

With a co-championship in the PAL Bay Division safely secured, Sacred Heart Prep will turn its attention to Menlo School and winning the annual Valparaiso Bowl. Kickoff for the nonleague battle 7 p.m., at Sequoia High in Redwood City.

The Gators bring a 6-3 overall mark into the game following last week's 52-21 romp over host Aragon. That win, coupled with Menlo-Atherton's 14-0 loss to host Burlingame, left the Bay Division in a three-way tie for first between the Gators, Bears and Panthers.

Menlo also brings 6-3 mark into the Valparaiso Bowl after falling to PAL Ocean Division leader Hillsdale, 34-14 last week.

Menlo-Atherton (5-4), meanwhile, takes on host Woodside in their annual nonleague battle, also at 7 p.m.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (3-2, 4-5) makes its final tuneup before CCS by visiting Wilcox at 7 p.m.

In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn (0-5, 0-9) will attempt to avert a winless season by hosting Cupertino on Senior Night at 7 p.m. The Titans go into the game 2-27 over three years.

The CCS playoffs, meanwhile, begin with a new lineup of five eight-team brackets Open Division I, Open Division II, Open Division III, Division IV and Division V.

The winners of the three Open divisions, plus two of the three Open second-place teams, will advance to one of 13 regional bowls.

Sacred Heart Prep, for example, most likely will play in Open Division III, with a chance of not only playing in a regional bowl but a state championship game, as well. Menlo-Atherton also will play in an Open division as an "A" league champ.

The CCS football pairings will be released Sunday.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

Good luck Titans!!! The effort the team has put in the past two matches is commendable. That both Wednesday, when Olivia Aspegren pulled out the win against a senior, and Thursday when Anna Yu came from behind to clinch it for the team, show your resilience and determination. All of Palo Alto is proud of you!


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