Menlo freshman Penelope Penfold-Patterson was singing when she came to play a tennis match with her doubles partner Lauren Creamer just over a month ago.
She had seen “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” a few days before and was still enthralled by the song “It's too late” (circa 1971), a ballad about a relationship gone bad.
“I know it sounds weird, but I was singing it during the match and we won, 0,0,” Penfold-Patterson said. “Ever since it's been a go-to song, like we have a catch phrase, 'consistency aggressive,' that helps us.”
Penfold-Patterson and Creamer, a junior, decided it wasn't too late to win their doubles match on Tuesday, beating Sacred Heart Prep's Lindsey Marcus-Sarah McGrath, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), in a classic match that clinched Menlo's 4-3 victory over the visiting Gators in a West Bay Athletic League Foothill Division girls tennis contest.
“It was the same thing the last time we played them and we lost,” Creamer said. “We lost the first set and won the second set. This time we won the third set tie-breaker.”
The Knights (9-0, 14-6) recorded their 237th consecutive regular-season victory, an on-going record, and clinched their 23rd consecutive league title.
“I can't be more proud of a group than this one,” Menlo coach Bill Shine said. “We lose two good players and they didn't care. They just put more work into it. They came together, with all that pressure, and to come through at a huge moment . . . This is what it's all about.”
With the streak on the line, and a crowd rooting both teams on, Creamer said she didn't even realize she was playing in the deciding match.
“I just know last time we didn't play very well,” she said. “We just kept telling each other 'we got this.'”
Menlo's Kathryn Wilson won at No. 4 singles, reversing a loss suffered in the last meeting with the Gators.
Sacred Heart Prep (7-2, 14-4) also got wins from two spots in the lineup that lost in their last meeting. Melina Stavropoulos played a tremendous match at No. 2 singles and the No. 3 doubles team of Nooryan Jafri and Emily McGrath, who tied the match at 3, got a little revenge by beating the Menlo duo who clinched against them before.
What didn't change was Elika Eshghi's win at No. 3 singles and Kaitlin Hao and Vivian Liu winning at No. 1 doubles.
Sacred Heart Prep's Sara Choy also won at No. 1 singles. The two-time defending CCS singles champion extended her streak against high school competition to an impressive 71-0.
Both teams finish the season on the road Thursday. Menlo is at Castilleja and the Gators travel to Harker.
Castilleja (5-4, 13-7) beat visiting Crystal Springs, 5- 2, Tuesday as Wallis Hess, Becca Row and Simran Sandhu all won singles matches to go with doubles victories from Lexi Bundy and Sophia Nesamoney and Taylor DeGroff and Soline Boussard.
Pinewood (1-8, 5-14) dropped a home match, 6-1, to Harker. No. 1 singles Haley Mathews earned the Panthers' lone point.
Pinewood finishes the season at Crystal Springs.