Preview: Girls’ tennis prepares for first round of CCS

Claire Krugler and Wesley Woo

Members of the girls’ tennis team listen as Athletic Director Jason Fung congratulates them on their CCS qualification. The team qualified for the tournament after winning all 12 of its league games. Photo by Wesley Woo.

The Palo Alto High School girls’ tennis team (16-4, 12-0) enters the upcoming Central Coast Section tournament tomorrow with high hopes after coming off an undefeated league season.

However, senior captain Madeline Lee emphasized the difference in level between CCS matches and regular league matches.

“We are looking at tough competitors,” Lee said.  “Since we were in the lower league, we are the only team [from that league] to continue on to CCS. This means that our draw will immediately pit us against a team from the upper league and it will be a challenge, regardless of who we play.”

One of the Paly players to watch for in the tournament is sophomore Avanika Narayan, the team’s current No. 1 singles player.  Narayan was seeded No. 1 in the recent Santa Clara Athletic Valley League tournament, where she got to the finals.

“Avanika is great,” Lee said.  “She’s a sophomore and she was our No. 3 [singles] player last year. The one and two singles players graduated, so this year she’s taken the No. 1 spot.  She was seeded at No. 1 and had a bye the first round.”

According to Narayan, the key to her individual success has been hard work and resilience.

“I put in a lot of time into my training,” Narayan said. “I play before and after school and I do a lot of physical fitness training.  I have been playing tournaments since I was 9 and have competed in both regional and national events — I owe my resilience to all my experiences competing in these tournaments. Tennis is a very mental sport: Problem-solving and mental toughness are key components of it.“

Narayan also underlined the team’s positive attitude as the season comes to an end.

“We are the league champions and everyone on the team is super excited for the tournament,” Narayan said. “We will go really far this year [and coach Andy Harader] has been really supportive of the team and has created a great line up.”

The team’s next match is at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11 at Carmel Valley High School, where the Vikings will take on Carmel Valley High School (17-0, 12-0) in the first round of the CCS tournament.