Menlo School girls' tennis is hoping to end its CCS frustration this season | September 7, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 7, 2012

Menlo School girls' tennis is hoping to end its CCS frustration this season

by Keith Peters

Senior Giannina Ong is sporting a new hair color these days — red instead of her normal brown. Junior Paulina Golikova has added streaks of green to her blonde locks. And, the Menlo School girls' tennis team has added to its wardrobe new T-shirts enscribed: "I Bust Mine So I Can Kick Yours."

Clearly, the Knights are out to change things up this season. Perhaps they're looking for additional inspiration to end six years of frustration.

Despite winning 188 straight league dual matches and being undefeated in league play since the start of the 1994 season — 18 years and counting — Menlo has suffered through a drought in the Central Coast Section playoffs.

The Knights last appeared in the section title match in 2006 — losing to Monta Vista — and last won a CCS team championship in 2005.

Menlo, however, returns 14 players who were on the roster at the end of the 2011 season that ended 20-5 with a loss to Monta Vista in the semifinals.

The Knights are a year older and more experienced. Moreover, they are best-suited to make a run at the Matadors this season — certainly in better shape to reach the CCS finals and qualify for NorCals.

"Everybody is a year older and I've got all my singles players back," said Bill Shine, now in his 17th season as the Knights' head coach. "My top four are really, really solid and we're really working hard on our doubles."

While Menlo is the winningest CCS team in history with seven section titles, Monta Vista is the defending CCS champ and has been the dominant team recently with five section crowns since 2003. The Matadors have eliminated Menlo from the past two section tournaments in the semifinals.

"Monta Vista didn't graduate anybody and they got a really good freshman," said Shine. "It seems like they haven't graduated anyone the past couple of years. Monta Vista is clearly the team to beat."

Menlo, of course, is among the challengers along with Mitty and 2011 runner-up Saratoga, which captured section titles in 2009 and '10. The Falcons, however, aren't as strong this season and Menlo proved that with a big 7-0 nonleague victory on Wednesday in Atherton.

The Knights (2-0) swept the singles with only one match going to three sets — Ong pulling out a 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 victory at No. 3 singles. Ong is the only senior in Menlo's singles' lineup. Sophomore Liz Yao won at No. 1, junior Kristy Jorgensen prevailed at No. 2 and junior Christine Eliazo swept at No. 4.

Shine, meanwhile, picked up his 375th career triumph at Menlo (against 65 losses). He was most impressed with his team's play in doubles, which will be a crucial aspect to Menlo's success this season.

"We can't count on our No. 1 singles player winning every match," said Shine. "The doubles have to come through."

Senior Laura Gradiska teamed with sophomore Helena Ong to win, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 1 while senior Sam Hoag and sophomore Sadie Bronk posted a 6-2, 6-1 triumph at No. 2. Golikova and junior Sarah Schinasi swept at No. 3 doubles.

Menlo next will compete in the California Classic in Fresno this weekend, where Dana Hills is the No. 1 seed and Monta Vista is No. 2. The Knights also will host Monta Vista on Sept. 19 in what could be a preview of the CCS finals.

Elsewhere Wednesday:

Sacred Heart Prep opened its season with a tough 4-3 loss to host Los Altos. The Gators managed only one singles victory, by Caroline Nordman at No. 1, but had a chance in doubles. The No. 2 tandem of Caroline Parsons and Maddy Jones put SHP in position to win after a 6-4 opening set, but the Gators' duo then dropped the next two sets.

Girls' golf

The first-ever Gunn girls' golf team make its debut a successful one by handing visiting Sacred Heart Prep a nonleague defeat on Wednesday, 235-251, at Palo Alto Municipal.

Gunn sophomore Anna Zhou led the Titans (1-0) with a 1-under-par 36 as she registered eight pars and one birdie. Teammate Jayshree Sarathy added a 40, notching six pars. Tiffany Yang (47), Sandra Herchen (56) and Somina Lee (56) wrapped up the Titans' first-ever dual-match effort.

Sophomore Jessica Koenig shot 45 to lead the Gators (1-1) with teammate Maddy Ellison a stroke behind her.

On Tuesday, Koenig, a former Sacred Heart Prep water polo player, made the most of her transition to the golf team leading the Gators over Mercy-Burlingame, 249-319, in the first match of the 2012 West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) season. Koenig shot a 42 to earn medalist honors while Ellison contributed a 48 for the Gators on the par-36 Sharon Heights Country Club course.

Girls' volleyball

Menlo School used some precise serving to register a three-set victory over visiting Aragon in a nonleague match Wednesday. The Knights (4-2), coming off a sixth-place finish at Spikefest I last weekend, beat the Dons, 25-13, 25-12, 25-19.

Menlo junior Maddy Frappier notched eight kills and senior Emma Thygesen collected seven. Junior Abbey Schmitt (19 assists) and senior Alexandra Ko (nine assists) distributed well for the Knights, who hit .266 for the match.

"I think the key to us dominating the match was tough accurate serving," Menlo coach Atlee Hubbard said. "We struggled a little with serving in the Spikefest tournament and worked on it this week in practice. Tonight was exactly what our serving should be."

In San Mateo, first-year coach Dustin Moore got his first victory of the season as Priory registered a 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 25-17 nonleague victory over host San Mateo on Wednesday. The Panthers improved to 1-1, bouncing back from a season-opening loss to Harker last week.

On Tuesday, Sacred Heart Prep improved to 6-1 with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 nonleague win over visiting Menlo-Atherton. Ellie Shannon produced 13 kills and four blocks to pace the Gators, who won the Silver Division of the Spikefest I on Saturday. Against the Bears, the Gators got nine kills and 10 digs from Sonia Abuel-Saud, seven kills and six blocks from Payton Smith, 10 digs from Helen Gannon and 26 assists from Cammie Merten.

The Bears (0-1) were missing last year's MVP in the PAL Bay Division, Ali Spindt, while Pauli King was limited to libero duties while coming back from injury. Alyssa Ostrow led M-A with eight kills while Katelyn Doherty added seven kills and eight digs with sophomore setter Kaitlin Tavarez finishing with 21 assists and eight digs.

Also Tuesday, senior Shelby Knowles contributed 14 kills and 10 digs as two-time defending CIF Division I state champion Palo Alto opened its season with a 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 nonleague victory over visiting Notre Dame-Belmont. The victory was the 22nd straight for the Vikings, who capped the 2011 season with a 21-match win streak.

Sophia Bono, who is the only other senior on the team and one of two co-captains, added 35 assists in her lengthiest playing stint while junior Becca Raffel finished with 11 kills. Keri Gee added 15 digs to lead the Vikings in that department. Paly is now 78-4 since the start of the 2010 season.

Girls' water polo

Menlo-Atherton got its 2012 season off to a good start with a 10-7 nonleague victory over visiting Presentation on Wednesday evening. The teams traded scoring for three periods with neither team leading by more than a goal. But, in the final minute of the third period, the Bears ramped up their attack.

A goal from junior Jessica Heilman broke a 6-6 tie to give the Bears a one-goal lead going into the final period. The fourth quarter was all Bears with senior Jenna Swartz scoring two goals late to help secure the win.

Junior goalie Sierra Sheeper had 10 saves and some key denials late. M-A recorded 10 steals, with Swartz and junior Nicole Zanolli leading the effort with three apiece, while Heilman and junior Samantha Henze had two.

The Bears had four players find the net — Heilman notching five goals with junior Sophia Caryotakis and Swartz scoring twice. Zanolli added a second- period goal.


Posted by Ann, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

Congratulations to the Menlo girls tennis team for finally speaking their minds and empowering the girls team with the shirt "I bust mine so I can kick yours".

Menlo School has come a long way from their passivity and it is refreshing to see girls who know how to express themselves in a clever and tongue in cheek manner. Good job girls!

Posted by Travis, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 13, 2012 at 7:46 am

Freedom of expression, means a freedom to express things that aren't always popular, but it's still free.

Posted by Angela , a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 8:54 am

Being a girl is conflicting. On one hand, we are taught
that we can be anything, do anything, but the moment we
try to achieve those goals we are quickly put back into place
by someone with antiquated views. I wonder if the boys team
had worn those shirts if this discussion would even be happening.
those girls do in fact bust theirs, so they can kick someone else's.
they work hard, study hard, so what if they are proud of that and
and want to show it off? In my opinion, we have far more important
things to worry about in schools.

Posted by Dorie Lyn, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

For too long girls had to sit by the sidelines while the boys played. They played hard and they competed hard and they got all the glory. NOT ANYMORE! The girls are now fierce competitors and start athletes and have earned the right to be loud and proud of their accomplishments. The shirt is a passive statement about that truth. I think banning this is sending an extremely negative message to our girls. Stop trying to control us and stop being so petty. Let them express who they are and make everyone proud by wining...AGAIN

Posted by Jan, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:22 am

I hear that the head of the school is banning the girls from wearing them at school and outside as well. Doesn't he have more important matters to take care of?

Girls need to not be afraid to speak their minds and assert themselves. The shirts are empowering! And yes the girls should wear them. If Menlo School wants to show the world that their school's culture supports girls as much as boys, then let the girls tennis team proudly wear them. Grow up Menlo, this is 2012.

Kudos to a team that is smart, hardworking and confident of their abilities.

Thumbs down and shame on you headmaster.

Posted by Amy, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

Cool shirt! Menlo finally have girls who speak their minds and are not afraid to so so!

Posted by Didi, a resident of Woodside
on Sep 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Love those shirts!! speak their minds and freedom of speech. Nothing wrong with the slogan. keep the shirts!!!

Posted by Observer, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

As a total outsider here with no dog in the fight either way, this seems a strange thing to be upset about. In every organization I've been a part of, the "higher ups" have complete say over how the organization is represented, including everything from slogans to colors used on any sort of apparel, stationary, etc. My guess is that Menlo--their board, their administration, etc.--has some sort of policy that wasn't followed. And, if so, what are they supposed to do, just let the kids print whatever they want? None of us have any idea what actually happened, but that's my guess.

As far as asking the head master to be "shamed" and telling Menlo to "grow up" because it's 2012, my guess is that this poster is the kid who created the shirt, or her mom maybe? It's actually somewhat refreshing to see a school come forward and stand up for something, even if it's a small thing. Another poster suggested that they must have bigger things to worry about--again, I'm sure Menlo/the head master does, but also has to "worry" a bit about this, right? In the past 2 years, I've been to 2 Menlo sporting events (football and basketball) and I found the Menlo students to be quite well behaved and respectful. Shouldn't we err (if this even is an error of some sort) on the side of virtue versus on the other side? It's actually a bit refreshing to see a school like this actually stand for something like this versus just ignoring or actively supporting it.

Posted by Rowena, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I grew up around here knowing the school, and I can tell Observer that it wasn't the child or the parent who posted anything here, I've know them for a few years and their names aren't the above. They are a very kind and respectable family.
From what I know, the t-shirts weren't paid by the school, instead the parents pitched in to give the girls extra shirts as a memento for being on the team, from my knowledge every year they do that. So the school really shouldn't mind because they don't display profanity nor is it in the school policy.
I was at their game and the Saratoga girls loved the shirts, kudos to the captain, the Saratoga team didn't even have their uniform yet.

Posted by Rowena, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Looking back, apologies if I come off as abrasive, I've always supported the girl's tennis team due to personal ties with the school growing up there. The Saratoga team had their uniform but not all the girls had it yet but they praised the Menlo girl's shirts.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm

It doesn't matter who paid for the shirts, Rowena--the girls are representing something bigger than themselves and, therefore, have to abide by that particular institution's rules. They can't just go buy shirts and thereby ignore the Menlo School policy: that would be ludicrous.

You write that it isn't in the school policy. It's hard to know what you mean here. My guess--having no access to the school policy--is that it absolutely IS in school policy that any athletic outfits must first be approved by the administration, regardless of who pays for them, or if they find them somewhere for free, etc. That simply doesn't matter as I'm sure you must agree.

Again, kudos to the school for trying to run a respectable institution that stands for something (see my previous post for more on this).

Posted by Rowena, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I absolutely agree that the girls are representing something bigger than themselves Observer, I just find it interesting because Menlo has always been a very liberal school-- e.g. The lack of dress code. I agree that they ought to be approved but to my knowledge for the past few years, the "memento" shirts, which have come in different styles and sayings on it have not been approved yet never faced trouble with the admin.
Even still, I think the girls hold be allowed to at least keep the shirts as a memento even if they are not allowed to wear them at their games, it was after all their parents money, not the schools.
I respect your opinion on the topic, Observer, and find them interesting, I only wish to depart with a clarifying statement that the child who made them and their mother did not post anything in the above comments, it was simply your assumption that they would do such a thing that irked me as I have known them for several year and have great respect for them.

Posted by Patty, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Observer, you're pretending to not know Menlo, you pretend not to take sides, but you accuse a child and her mom of something so blatant.

Quick question...why would you point a finger at a child or her mom? How would you even "know" that the child has a Mom AND not a Dad or both???? Unless, you're an insider. My take, you're just here to stir up.... You sound like you know too much to be just an "observer". Peace out!

It is 2012, the girls' shirt have no profanity or derogatory statements...let them keep the shirts!

Posted by Observer, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Rowena, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I just wanted to be clear: I didn't mean to say that it sounded like a particular kid/parent as I don't know them, so you're right, it was not meant to be "aimed" at them.

I'm glad you found my comments helpful--that's the whole point of discussion, right? :)

As for "Patty" it's unfortunate that you took such an aggressive/attack position. All you did was attack me and not actually address the points that I'd made. Then again, that's typical of how many people "discuss" issues, so I understand it. You correctly state the year ("It's 2012") which we all knew already, and then just 'yelled' out "...let them keep the shirts!" No discussion at all. I'll let my actual points made above speak for themselves.

Posted by Patty, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Observer, my apologies for sounding brash, Rowena said it all for me. I share her sentiments.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Atherton
on Sep 19, 2012 at 7:43 am

Thanks for that--at least I've helped to show one adult how to behave in a boarderline-civil manner. One at a time! :)

Yet, still, no actual real discussion going on. Bummer, but that's how some people are. It's no wonder we don't get anywhere in political/civic discourse. :( Imagine if this were actually an issue that mattered.