The Palo Alto High School boys’ tennis team (13-6) will take on Archbishop Mitty High School (15-5) in their first match of the Central Coast Section playoffs at 3 p.m. on Friday at home, after finishing third in the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League.
Head coach Andy Harader is more than satisfied with the results of the league as well as the team’s record outside of league matches.
“We went way beyond what we thought we would do,” Harader said. “We had successes against many of the real tough teams in our league, and we only lost one match outside of our league, so it speaks highly of our level of competition.”
Junior Kevin Huang reflected Harader’s view, emphasizing the prestige of the league. Four teams from the league placed in the eight seeding spots for Central Coast Section, with Paly placing in the No. 8 seed.
“The league was really tight in points,” Huang said. “I think the top four or five places were really close, and we finished among the top five. A lot of the teams were around our level and posed a challenge. I think it’s a learning experience every time we play in the league.”
Paly will enter in the second round of CCS to play against Mitty, who beat Sacred Heart Prep (12-10) in the first round of CCS on Wednesday.
“We played Mitty last year,” senior Gabriel Mechali said. “They weren’t that great, but I think they’ve improved a lot since last year considering our record. They’re definitely a solid team we shouldn’t underestimate.”
With a senior dominance in the squad, many are looking to make it a memorable CCS playoff.
“For most of us, this CCS will be our last one since more than half of the team are seniors,” Mechali said. “We’re pretty excited for it, and we’re going to try to go as far as we can.”
The biggest threat of CCS, however, is Menlo School (17-3), which the team will possibly face in quarterfinals.
“Unfortunately, if we make it by Friday, the quarterfinals will be against the No. 1 seed and the national champion Menlo,” Harader said. “The chances of us winning that match are practically nil. We’re outmatched in all seven spots, so the chance of us winning that [match] is practically non-existent.”
Despite the lack of hope for proceeding past the quarterfinals, the team believes facing Menlo would be a beneficial experience for all players.
“It’s always fun to play against them,” Huang said. “I think it’s a good learning experience for everyone who plays, especially since we’re losing a lot people the next year. It might be good to play against the elite to see where we stand and what we need to improve on before the next season.”
The Viking’s first match of CCS against the Lions will start at 3 p.m. on Friday at Paly.