The Los Altos High girls tennis team relies heavily on all the single ladies, but the doubles players will most assuredly have to contribute if the Eagles are going to be a hit this season.
“Our strength is in singles, like last year, but you also need strong doubles to win high school matches,” said coach Hung Nguyen, whose team is off to a 4-3 start. “We need the doubles to pick it up and take some pressure off the singles, and I think they will.”
The singles ladder is anything but rickety, featuring the formidable foursome of Juliette Martin, Kacey Incerpi, Carina Burdick and Whitney Mathews. They entered this week with a combined record of 23-3.
Sophomore Martin is in the top spot, just ahead of senior Incerpi, who played No. 1 last year.
Martin “is stronger than last year,” Nguyen said. “She has a bright future and should dominate by senior year.” Martin has a 5-2 record.
Incerpi is undefeated (7-0) and “playing her best tennis,” the coach said. “She’s been really good this year. She has drawn interest from several colleges, according to Nguyen.
Burdick sports the same spotless record, wowing the coach with her play.
“She has all the shots,” said Nguyen, who added that the versatile sophomore excels in doubles as well. “She’s the most gifted, in terms of strokes.”
Although Burdick is at No. 3 singles, the coach said she and No. 4 player Mathews “are very close” and the two have swapped spots on occasion. Mathews, a junior transfer, is 6-1.
Unlike in singles, Los Altos is stocked with seniors in doubles. Five of the team’s six seniors are doubles players, but only a few of them saw extensive action last year.
Nguyen said he is still “trying to find the right combinations” in doubles. Avery Ikeda and Anica Nangia are establishing themselves as the top team – winning both matches at No. 1 last week – while fellow seniors Elizabeth Fuchs and Haley Jones are in the second spot.
Junior Nina Kamangar and sophomore Niki Moha have been playing No. 3 doubles, though junior Brittany Cheng and senior Laura Shea “are in the mix, too,” Nguyen said.
Another player may soon join that mix. Madeline Bourquin, a transfer from St. Francis, “is waiting in the wings,” Nguyen said. The junior will be eligible to play Oct. 7, according to the coach, who envisions the junior playing No. 3 doubles or in relief in singles.
If the doubles players continue to improve, which Nguyen is confident they will, the Eagles might just exceed last season’s success. Los Altos reached the third round of the Central Coast Section playoffs after tying Lynbrook for third place in the SCVAL De Anza Division.
“This year, my hope is to finish alone in third or maybe second,” he said.
After opening the season by going 2-2 in the top division of the California High School Tennis Classic in Fresno, Los Altos won two of its three matches last week. The Eagles fell 4-3 to Saratoga in their division opener, beat Milpitas 6-1 in nonleague play and blanked rival Mountain View 7-0. Los Altos won all but one of Thursday’s matches against the Spartans in straight sets.
2013 girls tennis: Los Altos High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier