Knights win a thriller against Los Altos in quarterfinals
11.12.22 – It couldn’t get much tighter of a match when Menlo girls’ tennis played Cupertino for a spot into the CCS Championship on Saturday.
Much like Friday’s quarterfinal when Menlo defeated Los Altos 4-3, the semifinal was a nail-biter and played every bit like a section final match.
“It was beyond epic,” Bill Shine, who has seen his share of CCS matches in his 25 years, “We were underdogs. They showed tremendous grit and belief that they could pull it off, and we came within a point of winning.”
The fourth-seeded Knights and the top-seeded Pioneers tied to start the match with Cupertino taking No. 4 singles then senior Natalie Westermann sailed 6-2, 6-2, picking up the Knights lone singles win.
Sophomore Andra Braicu fell to the Gayathri Krishnan, a senior who reportedly has not lost in three years. Menlo senior Ellie Hardegree and sophomore Izzy Klugman won No. 3 doubles 6-1, 6-4, and the match knotted again at 2.
In a nail-biter of a singles match, freshman Elise Chen fought back from a 3-0 deficit to take first set 7-5. The second set went to Cupertino on a tiebreak 7-5, drawing a third-set tiebreaker. Each player played five match points and Tino senior Allison Hsieh prevailed 16-14 in an unreal match.
Cupertino took No.1 doubles after tough contest, then No. 2 doubles senior Sofia Labatt and sophomore Kate Hsia won the first set and trailed 4-1 in the second before staging an incredible rally and won their match 6-3, 7-5.
Menlo, which lost four starting seniors from last season, finished 2022 a point away from the championship.
“This is an incredible day that I will never forget with a team that I will never forget,” Shine said.,
Seventh seed Monta Vista upset top seed Cupertino 4-3 in the final. Menlo (21-6) wrapped up a season in which it was an underdog for CCS.
Menlo 4, Los Altos 3
11.11.22 – It didn’t matter that senior Sofia Labatt and sophomore Kate Hsia hadn’t played together yet this season, the duo played like longtime doubles partners winning
the clinching match in the Menlo girls’ tennis team’s 4-3 CCS quarterfinals victory over a tough Los Altos team at home Friday.
The fourth-seeded Knights (21-5) now play Cupertino - a 5-2 winner over Los Gatos - in the semifinals at 10:00 am Saturday at Lynbrook High in San Jose.
Knights senior Ellie Hardgree and sophomore Izzy Klugman rolled to a win at No. 3 doubles 6-0, 6-0 and Los Altos took No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles. Once freshman Elise Chen and senior Natalie Westermann picked up straight-sets victories at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, the stage was set for No.2 doubles.
Labatt welcomed the pressure of being a potentially deciding match, and likened
it when she and Westermann clinched the match against league rival Harker.
“I sort of hoped it would come down to us to win, I did kind of mentally prepare in case it did. Kind of like a few months ago when Natalie and I were deciding match for Harker, I kind of tried to get in that same mentality of embracing the moment.”
Menlo has had six matches go to a 4-3 decision and two tournament matches - against Los Altos and Menlo-Atherton - gone to tiebreaker based on sets.
“I feel like those close matches have helped us dealing with the pressure,” Hsia said.