Sports

Menlo girls win a second straight NorCal tennis crown

 

Menlo School topped Saratoga, 5-2, in the championship match to defend its title in the CIF/USTA Northern California Regional on Saturday at the Broadstone Racquet Club in Folsom.

The top-seeded Knights defeated the No. 3-seed Falcons for the second time in a week and by the same score after meeting in the CCS finals last Saturday.

Menlo advanced after a close 4-3 victory over No. 5 Dougherty Valley in the semifinals while Saratoga moved on by beating No. 2 Monte Vista (Danville), 4-3.

Dougherty Valley gave Menlo its toughest match of the season, taking three singles matches. Only Menlo freshman Ashley Vielma prevailed, 6-3, 6-0, at No. 1. The Knights survived by sweeping the doubles, with Schuyler Tilney-Volk and Kathryn Wilson clinching the victory at No. 2 doubles, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4.

Singles swept the match against Saratoga, with Georgia Anderson's 6-0, 6-3 triumph at No. 4 clinching the title. The Knights wrapped up a 26-1 season, their only loss coming to Hawaii state champion Punahou in the Golden State Classic.

For seniors Melissa Tran, Mia McConnell, Schuyler Tilney-Volk and Lila Gornick, last year's CCS title was the first since 2005 and NorCal title was the first since 2001. For the Knights, cohesiveness was a key to their success.

"To be on the team that broke that streak and win two in a row is something I'll never forget," said Tran, a co-captain. "I will remember how supportive everybody is. Whether it's freshman-senior or junior-junior interactions, everybody acts the same way with each other and we cheer our loudest at every game. Win or lose, we encourage each other and make each other better at practice. Everybody puts the team first over their personal interests, which makes our team chemistry better than any other team I've ever seen or been in."

The Knights had freshmen, along with juniors in the singles lineup, as well as all classes in the doubles. Menlo dominated all season, led by its No. 1 doubles team of McConnell and Tran that went 27-0.

"We both wanted the (NorCal) title so badly and both have went through the same feeling of losing," Tran said. "In terms of on the court, we balance each other out because she's very aggressive at the net and will finish the point while I have a strong serve and can keep the ball away from the other net player. I went into the season confident with our playing, but didn't really think about being undefeated until we actually were, and I think that helped with being undefeated!"

Menlo will be represented in the CCS Individual Tournament on Monday (noon) at Bay Club Courtside in Los Gatos by Vielma, No. 4 singles seed, and McConnell and Tran in doubles.

Sacred Heart Prep sophomore Sara Choy is the defending singles champion and the No. 1 seed. Menlo-Atherton has two doubles teams -- No. 3-seeded Julia Marks and Yvette Leung plus Sally Carlson and Julia Chang.

Action concludes Tuesday, starting with semifinals at noon.

— Menlo School Athletics/Palo Alto Online Sports

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