Girls’ tennis team start strong in league matches, take seventh in major tournament

September 19, 2015 — by Caitlin Ju

With these two easy wins, and a other challenging ones, the Falcons show strong promise for a third consecutive De Anza League championship.

Hundreds of leaves covered the significantly slanted tennis courts, and construction provided an irritating background noise. Even worse, there was a strong wind, but none of these distractions bothered the girls’ tennis team as they cruised to 7-0 victory against Palo Alto at home on Sept. 15.

The Falcons also dominated Lynbrook at home two days later, winning, 6-1.

With these easy wins, the Falcons showed strong promise for a third consecutive De Anza League championship.

Four days earlier, though, the players’ faces were grim as they huddled around the back of the Menlo High School tennis courts, reviewing their strengths and weaknesses after a disappointing first round 7-0 loss to Mira Costa in the first annual Golden State Tennis Classic, which pitted 16 of the best teams in the state and one from Hawaii against each other.

The tournament took place Sept. 12 -13 at Menlo High School and Stanford University’s Taube Family Tennis Stadium. The team has always participated in the Fresno California Tennis Classic at this time of the year, but this year made the decision to compete in the new tournament instead.

“It was also pretty lucky that we chose to go to Stanford this year instead, because the poor air quality at Fresno forced the tournament to be cancelled,” senior No. 1 and 2 doubles player Shireen Haghshenas said. “The girls who went there didn’t even get to play.”

Despite its loss the first round, the team came back in the second round, beating Valencia 4-3 with No. 4 singles player junior Neeka Nikfar winning a tough deciding match.

In the third round, the Falcons lost to Mira Costa 5-2, with wins coming from juniors Caitlin Ju at No. 1 singles and Kelly Hsu at No. 4 singles. They then prevailed with a 5-2 win over Leland in the last round, meaning they finished seventh place. For each match, the lineup was changed as players gained confidence and found their strengths.

The team was happy with its performance, especially since it suffered from the loss of six players — two to graduation and four to private practice in United States Tennis Association tournaments.

“We lost of a lot of good players and morale,” senior co-captain Meera Rachamallu said. “We overestimated our doubles team, but it is nice to get to practice with teams we have never heard of. We won’t get that chance in leagues.”

Junior Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar agrees that this tournament was a good “practice round” for the team.

“It allowed the players to reflect on their weaknesses and strengths,” Berkowitz-Sklar said. “It brought everybody together, because not many of us had played together before.”

Head coach Florin Marica thinks seventh place is “lucky” and is looking to start the league season strong.

“We hope to start fresh in the league matches, and our goal this season is to get into CCS,” Marica said. “Our team is not as strong as last year, but we are very compact and work well together.”

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