Season recap: Girls’ tennis team ends season at CCS semifinals

Amy Lin, Editor-in-Chief

The Palo Alto High School girls’ tennis team, bolstered by several strong underclassman players, ended the season with 10 wins and 10 losses, overturning a frustrating streak of ties and advancing deeper into CCS than the team has for several years.

This season began differently than most. While most of the recently graduated seniors played for recreation, the four newly introduced freshman varsity athletes were devoted players, several of whom had high rankings in California.

“This is the highest ranked team I’ve ever had, in terms of ranked players,” coach Andy Harader, who has been coaching tennis for over 20 years, said. “We had 12 ranked players on the team, which is pretty darn good, [including] several highly ranked girls.”

This enabled the team to participate in the Golden Tennis State Classic in early September this year, and play against high-level teams from all over California.

“We went in there not expecting to do too well because we were a young team and we were coming up against the best teams in California,” Harader said. “They had seniors and juniors that are at the top.”

The team won one match and tied three matches, losing three tiebreakers.

“It was unnerving because we lost so many super tiebreakers and we ended up, because of that, losing many matches,” Harader said. “We were in there, we were competitive with all the teams but we couldn’t to pull it out — we couldn’t seem to finish.”

After playing all of its league games, the team placed fifth in the De Anza League, with a record of six wins and nine losses. Previously, this would have ended the season for the team, but this year, seeds for CCS were chosen differently, and five of the eight teams in the league were seeded for CCS this year.

“It used to be based on power points, which is your win loss record essentially,” Harader said. “But what’s happening now, up here, they realize our league is so deep with talent that many of the teams don’t go to sectionals because many of the teams can’t get in on the power points system.”

The team advanced to CCS semifinals after narrowly beating Monta Vista 4-3 on Nov. 8. As the Paly team had not qualified for CCS in many years, beating Monta Vista’s team, the first seed, was a momentous occasion, which, according to sophomore Myra Xu, brought Harader to tears.

“I was elated and speechless, and it felt like a miracle, as Monta Vista was the favorite and we were the underdog,” freshman varsity captain Kamila Wong said. “I still am in disbelief that we won that match, and it just meant so much to the team.”

Wong and sophomore varsity captain Maddi Page scored another victory for the team in the SCVALs and CCS doubles playoffs. After taking third place at SCVALs, Page and Wong improved and took second place at CCS, losing only to the previous champions from Los Gatos.

“When I first joined the team, I didn’t really know what to expect.” Wong said. “All I knew was that we had a very good team, and if we worked hard, we would be able to [reach] the CCS playoffs.”

Having achieved this goal, the team has set their sights on reaching finals for next year’s CCS team tournament.

“The girls are getting tougher and more mentally sound with their play,” Harader said. “Next year we’re looking forward to a great season. A major goal for us next year would be able to come in first or second in our league.”