No tennis team in Northern California has defeated the Los Altos High girls this season, and the Eagles would like that to continue in this week’s Central Coast Section playoffs.
“I think we’ll do well,” coach Hung Nguyen said. “I look forward to it.”
Although he wouldn’t go as far as to predict a CCS title for the Eagles – whose lone loss came three months ago to Palisades of Southern California – Nguyen expects them to do better than last year’s second-round exit.
“I haven’t seen all the teams, but I’m confident in our depth,” he said. “I think our depth will help carry us a long way. I expect us to go far – at least to the quarterfinals.”
To get that far, fifth-seeded Los Altos (20-1) had to win Tuesday’s home match, played after the Town Crier’s press deadline, against either Leland (15-7) or St. Ignatius (13-6). If the Eagles prevailed, they would likely face No. 4 Menlo (15-6) in the quarters, scheduled Thursday at a time and place to be determined.
Los Altos entered the playoffs on a 19-match winning streak. The Eagles were barely tested in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division, winning all 12 matches by at least 5-2 scores. They also picked up solid non-divisional victories against Monta Vista (twice), Mitty and Menlo-Atherton.
“I’m so proud of my team,” said Nguyen, in his 10th year as coach. “It’s my first 20-win team.”
He also was proud of the Eagles’ efforts at last week’s individual tournament. Los Altos players dominated the two-day event, finishing first and second in singles and first, second and third in doubles.
“It was pretty much a clean sweep.” Nguyen said.
Freshman phenom Yuu Ishikawa, the top seed in singles, beat fellow Eagle and No. 2 seed Nadia Ghaffari 6-1, 6-0 in the Nov. 1 final. Ishikawa didn’t lose a set in the tourney and has qualified for next week’s CCS individual tournament at Bay Club Courtside in Los Gatos.
“CCS will be a good test for her,” Nguyen said. “She could go far – she has crazy talent and is very mature for a freshman.”
Fourth-seeded Ishikawa will face unseeded Anna Hashimoto of Valley Christian in the first round, set for noon Tuesday.
The Los Altos doubles team of Kylie Akiyama and Krithika Nathamuni will join Ishikawa at the event. The unseeded duo is slated to meet No. 5 Akanksha Pabari and Cate Liston of St. Francis at noon.
Akiyama and Nathamuni, the top-seeded team at the league tourney, beat third-seeded teammates Karina Shah Chavez and Celeste Tran 6-0, 6-3 in the final.
“They dominated the league,” Nguyen said of Akiyama and Nathamuni, “but CCS is going to be tougher because so many ranked singles players are playing doubles this year.”
In the league’s third-place match, Eagles Aline Wu and Hannah Pashenkov beat Mountain View’s Emma Ukrainczyk and Saila Khuntia 4-6, 7-5, 10-4.
In the third-place singles match, unseeded freshman Dasha Terson of Mountain View topped teammate and No. 3 seed Alena Pruett 6-4, 6-4.
Earlier in the day, Pruett fell to Ghaffari in the semifinals.
“Alena played a very tight semifinal with Nadia, losing in the 10-point third set 13-15,” Mountain View coach Frank Smyth said.
On the other side of the bracket, Terson lost her semifinal match to Ishikawa in straight sets. However, Smyth said Terson “played well” in the 6-1, 6-4 setback.
Spartans & Lancers also qualify for playoffs
Although Smyth put the Spartans’ chances of making the CCS team playoffs as “slim,” they did get in. Unseeded Mountain View (11-3) was scheduled to open against Valley Christian Monday for the right to take on No. 3 St. Francis (14-4) Tuesday at Cuesta Park. The winner moves on to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
St. Francis’ top singles player, Alisha Chulani, is slated to play in the CCS individual tournament as well. The fifth-seeded sophomore will take on Sacred Heart Prep’s Katherine Salisbury at noon Tuesday at Bay Club Courtside.