Girls’ tennis regains traction but struggles against rivals

October 16, 2018 — by Andrew Lee and Jayne Zhou

 

More than midway through the season, the girls’ tennis team continues to set a strong pace in the De Anza League. Aiming to end with a solid record for entry into CCS, the team has been trying to remain consistent with its performance and strong with each passing match.

The Falcons beat Homestead 6-1 on Sept. 28, Los Gatos 4-3 on Oct. 3, Los Altos 4-3 and Palo Alto 6-1 on Oct. 10. The Falcons fell 5-2 in their match against league-leading Monta Vista on Oct. 5. As of Oct. 15, their league record is 8-2 and their overall record is 10-2, putting them in second place in the De Anza Division.

Experienced players, such as No. 3 singles player Alyssa Pinai and new additions to varsity, such as doubles player Sanya Kwatra, have become increasingly accustomed to the new team dynamics this year, and players are now in sync with the steady rhythm of league matches.

“The team has gotten a lot closer and our practices are a lot more productive now,” Kwatra said.

However, even though the team has been able to pull through against a number of teams that it has faced so far, the girls are finding themselves struggling against their old rival Monta Vista and new rival Los Altos.

So far, the girls have lost twice to Monta Vista and once to Los Altos. Los Altos has emerged as a strong challenger to the traditionally dominant teams of Saratoga and Monta Vista.

But in its match on Oct. 10, the girls’ tennis team was able to defeat Los Altos 4-3.

With No. 1 singles player Rini Vasan out for the season from a torn wrist and No. 2 singles player Monica Stratakos weakened by a leg injury, such a close victory came as a surprise, but reflected the long hours and hard the work the players have been committing at practices to compensate for missing talent.

Stratakos, who had been playing No. 1 singles with Vasan out, began to have difficulties early on the game. Due to her injury, Stratakos was forced to withdraw, resulting in a default loss for the Falcons.

The remaining singles and doubles players had to perform even better than how they did in their previous matchup with Los Altos, where the Falcons fell 4-3 on Sept. 18.

Both No. 2 Anissa Mu and No. 3 Alyssa Pinai singles were able to secure easy wins. Mu won her match 6-1 6-1, and Pinai 6-0 6-0. In addition, No. 3 doubles players Khiara Berkowitz and Divya Aggrawal defeated their opponents 6-1 6-0.

The match came down to No. 1 players Katie Lam and Juhi Patel. In a tight contest, Lam and Patel were able to endure, winning the tie breaker 10-6.

“It’s difficult to play against [Monta Vista and Los Altos] because our top few players have been injured and had to sit out a few important matches,” Kwatra said. “So everyone [has] to be moved up a spot and play against people they normally wouldn't if we had the whole lineup.”

Vasan observed that much of the team’s ability to recover from the loss of key players can be attributed to having had sufficient time to recover from practice not done throughout the off-season and being able to communicate through strong bonds among its athletes. This was especially important in the most recent match against Los Altos, Vasan said.

“At the beginning of the season we were a bit rusty as many of our players did not practice a lot over the summer,” Vasan said. “But after loads of school practices we were able to bond together as a team and perfect our strokes.”

With a key upcoming match against Los Gatos on Oct. 23 and possible future matchups against stronger teams through SCVALs and CCS, girls’ tennis hopes to reflect on its recent victory against Los Altos and learn from its experiences. The girls hope to develop their skills as a team further and morally support each other during matches.

“I think [the team] can take away that focusing at the start of the match is very important and that cheering for each other is really important in motivating teammates,” Vasan said.