Falcons defeat Matadors, tie for league championship with LG

October 28, 2015 — by Caitlin Ju

It was inarguably the most important match the team has had all season as it determined if Saratoga was to be the winner of the De Anza league championship. The result of the game on Oct. 22 against Los Gatos was disappointing for the girls: They were no longer certain they could add to their four-year streak as De Anza league champions. Instead, there was now a tie.

It was inarguably the most important match the team has had all season as it determined if Saratoga was to be the winner of the De Anza league championship. The result of the game on Oct. 22 against Los Gatos was disappointing for the girls: They were no longer certain they could add to their four-year streak as De Anza league champions. Instead, there was now a tie.

Los Gatos won all four of the singles matches, while Saratoga swept the three doubles, resulting in the Falcons’ 4-3 loss. Los Gatos was undefeated except for their previous loss to Saratoga on Sept. 29 and Monta Vista, but because the Falcons had lost to Monta Vista in the first round of league play, the match resulted in a tie between Los Gatos and Saratoga for De Anza league champions.

Los Gatos had three new freshmen in their top 3 singles and was a completely new rival, whereas Monta Vista had always been a strong competitor. The loss to Los Gatos overshadowed a significant win the previous week over Monta Vista. 

Against Monta Vista, the wins came from three of four singles players and one doubles pair: senior Shaya Nikfar at No. 2 singles, junior No. 3 singles player Neeka Nikfar, No. 4 singles Hsu and seniors No. 3 doubles Allison Lin and Meera Rachamallu, the Falcons managed to edge out the Matadors 4-3 for their biggest win of the year so far.

Head coach Florin Marica attributed the win mostly to the tenacity of the singles players.

“Unfortunately, the doubles won their first sets but couldn’t close their matches,” Marica said. “However, the singles players were very resilient in their matches. It took a lot of mental strength for them to win the game for us.”

The team had come into the game with strategic doubles pairs different from the last match against Monta Vista on Sept. 22, when they lost 4-3. Each doubles player had a new partner who hit with a style different from hers. The plan was to sweep doubles and maintain No. 1 singles win or at least have wins from two doubles and two singles. After No. 1 and No. 2 doubles each lost in three tough sets, players began to grow nervous.

Neeka, however, saved the team by winning both her sets 6-4 against sophomore Carol Lei, the same Monta Vista player she had lost to last time.

“I thought the doubles were all winning, so I was able to concentrate more on my game, and I played better,” Neeka said. “It wasn’t until the second set that I realized how much was at stake. In the last deuce point at 5-4, I became so nervous at the thought I might have to play a third set.”

Similarly, Hsu played a difficult match, winning 7-5 and 7-6 (5). Lin and Rachamallu, the last doubles players to finish, won 6-3, 3-6 and 6-4.

On Oct. 6, the team defeated rival Los Altos 5-2 and on Oct. 8, they beat Palo Alto 6-1.

Continuing their winning streak, the girls then beat Lynbrook, which Monta Vista had lost to in a surprising upset, 6-1 on Oct. 13.

Despite the loss to Los Gatos, Marica believes his team is heading in a good direction.

“We knew it would be a tough match against Los Gatos, and even though we did not win that match, we are still doing well in league,” Marica said. “As always, we would like to win CCS, so hopefully we will have better luck than last year.”

The team defeated Homestead 4-3 on Oct. 27. They will play Los Altos on Oct. 29, and the tie-breaking match between Los Gatos and Saratoga is scheduled for Oct. 30.

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