Three Eagles advance past first round of CCS individual tennis tournament

Town Crier file photo
Los Altos High junior Nadia Ghaffari reached the CCS semifinals last week.

A week after participating in the Central Coast Section team playoffs for the first time, three members of the Los Altos High girls tennis team embarked on another new experience – the CCS individual tournament.

Singles player Nadia Ghaffari reached the semifinals, while the doubles team of Kylie Akiyama and Karina Shah Chavez went as far as the quarterfinals of last week’s tourney, held over two days at Bay Club Courtside in Los Gatos.

“It was their first taste of CCS, and it’s good for next year,” coach Hung Nguyen said of his three underclassmen. “They should handle the pressure better.”

Not that the coach was disappointed with how the trio performed at this year’s event.

“I’m happy with the effort the girls put out,” he said. “All of them played clean matches and they weren’t that nervous. I’m proud of the way they represented Los Altos.”

Ghaffari, the fourth seed in CCS singles, overwhelmed her first two opponents Nov. 15. The junior opened with a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing of unseeded Jacqueline Bautista of Monterey, then cruised to a 6-0, 6-2 victory over unseeded Gabriela Tevez of Oak Grove.

“She won in dominant fashion,” Nguyen said. “All parts of her game were working.”

The next day in the semifinals, however, Ghaffari ran into Sacred Heart Prep junior Sara Choy, the top seed and two-time defending champ. Choy prevailed 6-2, 6-1.

“Nadia played a more polished player, but she did her best,” Nguyen said. “Getting to the semifinals is still a great accomplishment. Next year, as a senior, I hope she can compete for the title.”

The coach was also impressed with how well Akiyama and Shah Chavez – a freshman and sophomore, respectively – played in their short time as a tandem. The coach first put them together Nov. 1 at the SCVAL El Camino Division tournament, which they won to qualify for CCS.

Akiyama and Shah Chavez won their CCS opener decisively: 6-2, 6-1 over Evergreen Valley’s TK Bui and Jessica Chen.

“They played really well,” Nguyen said of his duo.

Unseeded Akiyama and Shah Chavez faced a tougher task in the quarterfinals. Fourth-seeded Emily Kha and Shreya Ravella of St. Francis beat them 6-3, 6-2.

“The other team has more doubles instinct than they do right now,” Nguyen said. “(My girls) played them toe-to-toe, but (their opponents) were more aggressive than they were.”

Kha and Ravella were eliminated in the next round, falling to Saratoga’s Stephanie Ren and Monica Stratakos 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals. Ren and Stratakos went on to win the doubles crown.

Two other local players competed in CCS singles. In a battle of unseeded players, St. Francis freshman Alisha Chulani edged Santa Teresa’s Minvi Bui 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in opening-round play. Later that day, No. 2 seed and eventual champ Ashley Yeah of Los Gatos topped Chulani 6-1, 6-0.

Pinewood senior Haley Matthews bowed out in the first round, falling to fellow unseeded player Kate Duong of Cupertino 6-2, 6-1.

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