Top-seeded girls’ tennis team endures disappointing loss to Menlo in CCS semis

November 20, 2014 — by Caitlin Ju

After finishing the season with a 20-game winning streak and a record of 22-1, the girls’ tennis team’s post-season ended abruptly after being defeated 4-3 by the fifth-seeded Menlo on Nov. 17 at the Bay Club Courtside. The loss came especially as a blow as the team had beaten Menlo at the Fresno tournament in early September 4-1, with 2 matches unfinished.

It was down to one match on the championship court. The tennis team watched anxiously, their eyes slightly averted. When the final point came and they heard the other team’s screams of victory, the reality hit them.

After finishing the season with a 20-game winning streak and a record of 22-1, the girls’ tennis team’s post-season ended abruptly after being defeated 4-3 by the fifth-seeded Menlo on Nov. 17 at the Bay Club Courtside. The loss came especially as a blow as the team had beaten Menlo at the Fresno tournament in early September 4-1, with 2 matches unfinished.

The top two singles No. 1 senior captain Smita Sabada and No. 2 sophomore Caitlin Ju lost in close three set matches, and the top two doubles No. 1 junior YuKaren Asai and senior co-captain Arathi Sabda and No. 2 junior AiMarie Asai and freshman Stephanie Ren lost in equally nerve-wracking straight sets.

Though the team found the loss disappointing, they left the courts without regrets.

“It was a tough loss and we were all expecting to do better,” said Smita. “But I couldn’t have asked for a better team to finish with my final season.”

After being named the top seed of the entire CCS team tournament, players felt slightly pressured, said Arathi.

“I think that it’s always a little bit nerve-wracking when people expect you to win every single match with our record,” Arathi said. “But we dealt with the pressure of winning league really well.”

The rest of the team’s season was a success, with the team winning 5-2 against Leland High on Nov. 14 in the quarterfinals and 7-0 against Burlingame on Nov. 12, even with two of its singles players unable to play because of illness. The CCS tournament began Nov. 11, but the team received a bye the first round.

“Since our first win at CCS was really easy,” said freshman No. 2 doubles player Stephanie Ren. “It showed how strong our team was and gave us a lot of confidence going into the next round to play as well as we did.”

Additionally, during the Nov. 4 and 5 Santa Clara Valley Athletic League tournament, the team’s two double pairs were successful. Both doubles teams came face to face after each having two easy wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Earlier that afternoon, first seed senior co-captains  Arathi and Smita Sabada beat the fourth seed from Los Altos and second seed juniors AiMarie Asai and YuKaren Asai beat the third seed from Monta Vista.

In a tough three setter where the teams had to move courts and no lights were available, the Asais prevailed over the Sabadas, thereby receiving automatic entry into the CCS doubles tournament, which begins Nov. 24.

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