Girls’ Golf: Team shoots for CCS on windy, tough course

November 4, 2009 — by Uttara Sivaram

The golf season slowed to a gradual halt mid-October, as the Falcons finished last-minute matches to allow time to train for the CCS tournament right around the corner. Although the girls found themselves playing tougher teams as the year went on, they managed to push their scores low enough to finish fourth in the Mt. Hamilton league.

The girls were relieved to have their last week of the regular season off to relax and begin preparing for CCS. Only the top six golfers were able to compete in the CCS qualifiers. In order to advance into CCS, the girls would either have to shoot below a 95 or qualify as a team with a cumulative score of 360. Freshmen Samika Kumar and Sanjna Verma, sophomore Jay Kim, junior Uttara Sivaram and seniors Natasha Aleksic and Kayla Epsman trekked to the Santa Theresa course on Oct. 27 to play in the tournament. The conditions were forecasted to be very challenging, with cold and high-speed winds. However, this forecast did not prepare the girls for the weather they were to face.

The winds were brutal for the girls, whipping onto the course at a staggering 40 mph, even blowing the sand out of the bunkers. The team struggled to stay upright long enough to hit their shots, which would be arbitrarily carried by the current. As a result, only two teams and 12 individuals qualified, an all-time low for leagues across the Bay Area. From the Falcons, only Sivaram was able to qualify for CCS. She represented Saratoga Nov. 3, at Monterey’s Rancho Cañada.

Before the CCS qualifiers, Saratoga was suffering defeat after defeat—a succession that had until now, been alien to the competitive girls.

“It was weird—all of a sudden, we were playing girls who shot two, three over par,” said Epsman. “The season got harder and harder.”

The Falcons were soon to be pitted against the No. 1 school in the Mt. Hamilton league: Leland.

“We were pretty confident of ourselves towards the end,” said Kim, “until we played Leland. They were really good.”

Their first match against Leland was on Oct. 19 at the Saratoga Country Club. The conditions were among some of the worst the girls had played in; the thick, fast-falling rain made it impossible for the players to grip their clubs and keep track of their ball. Even though other teams had canceled mid-match, both Leland and Saratoga plowed on, determined to brave the downpour.

“It was absolutely ridiculous,” said Aleksic. “It was absolutely terrible—the fairways and greens were so soaked that the ball would just sink into the ground.”

The Leland girls were especially undaunted by the storm and scored impressively low totals. They beat Saratoga by margin of 38 strokes.

After four prior defeats, two against both Los Gatos and Lynbrook, the team was determined to to turn their losing streak around. True to their word, Saratoga won on Oct. 13 against Lincoln at the hilly Los Lagos course. Although the Falcons were unfamiliar with the course and did not score their lowest, they were relieved to break their losing streak.

For the rest of the girls, the season has ended after the BVAL qualifications, if not on the highest note, at least with the pride of advancing so far for a relatively new team.

“We did far better than what I had expected at the beginning of the season,” said Epsman. “We stuck it out, and we made our mark as fourth in the league. I’m so proud of everyone.”

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