As team rebuilds, senior golfer relishes having a more normal season

September 13, 2021 — by Avani Kongetira and Tara Natarajan
Despite challenges with inexperienced players, the team plans to focus on evolving together.

Senior golfer Savannah Lin, who’s been on the team for four years, endured the weirdness of spring golf last year and is enjoying a more regular season at the team’s home course, the Saratoga Country Club.

Lin starts the year as No. 2 player behind freshman Sarah Lim. After a condensed season in February due to the pandemic, the team has reunited for the current fall season, with an abundance of new players and only a few veterans. This season will be one for rebuilding the program, according to head coach David Gragnola, as most of the team is unaccustomed to playing competitively. 

With so much youth in the lineup, Gragnola is hesitant to predict his team’s performance in upcoming matches. The team lost two key travel players to graduation last season: Jane Loo and Ananya Sekharan. They have been replaced by Lim and junior Ananya Seth (No. 6).

Lim is a strong addition, and Gragnola expects that the freshman will “be a top 10 player in the league this year.” Lim regularly competes in tournaments and is a talented player who shot up to the No. 1 starting position during tryouts.

The travel team also includes senior Melody Li (No. 3), sophomore Alicia Nguyen (No. 4) and senior Harshini Velchamy (No. 5).

For her part, Savannah Lin said: “I’m happy that we all get to be together for the second time this year after February’s season. I think we’re definitely more bonded as a team.”

Lin said that the team’s main goal this year is to beat Los Gatos. The two teams have a running rivalry, and Gragnola makes it a regular point that defeating Los Gatos is an important goal. Most of the other matches will prove to be a challenge for the newer members of the travel team. Palo Alto and Lynbrook are elite teams that will most likely defeat Saratoga this year. This year is a “rebuilding year,” during which many newer players will develop their game, Gragnola said. 

“Beating Los Gatos is the one thing we absolutely have to do,” Lin said. “Most of the travel team is relatively new, and that’s going to be troublesome for at least the first few matches.” 

As the only senior on the team, Lin is looking forward to team bonding events much more than actual matches.

 “All of my teammates from freshman year have graduated, so it’s just me now. But I’m most excited for the team-bonding, because seniors get to plan most of it,” she said. “Things like Secret Buddies and senior banquet are really the highlights. I’ve played with the team for four years and I’m very lucky to have done so.”