Sports

Mtn. View girls swing past competition in tennis, head to CCS playoffs for second straight season


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Elise Joshi follows through on a shot last week against Gunn.

No matter what happens in next week’s playoffs, it’s been a banner year for the Mountain View High girls tennis team. By winning the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division title last week, the Spartans have earned a championship banner to hang in the school gym.

“That’s exactly what we’ve been looking forward to having,” top singles player Alena Pruett said. “It’s nice to finally get that one.”

The last time the team hung a banner was 2010. Pruett and Mountain View’s four other seniors were in fourth grade.

“It’s nice to end that eight-year drought and finally clean that up,” Pruett said.

The drought ended Oct. 23 at Gunn, where the Spartans topped the Titans 5-2. With the league title and a playoff berth in hand, Mountain View altered its lineup for Thursday’s finale – playing all of its seniors against visiting Lynbrook – and still won 5-2.

That guaranteed the Spartans a perfect record in the division (12-0) for the first time in Frank Smyth’s 18 years as coach.

“I’m just riding along with it,” Smyth said of Mountain View’s success. “It’s kind of a random thing – we got lucky picking up some players.”

Players like freshman Stephanie Hsu, who is at No. 4 singles.

“She was a player that was ready to go the first day,” the coach said. “She’s built her confidence and is marching along playing strong tennis.”

Hsu and No. 3 player Elise Joshi both beat their Gunn counterparts last week. Hsu prevailed 6-4, 6-4 in what Smyth called “a very tough match.” Joshi eked out a 6-1, 5-7, 12-10 victory.

“She played a heroic tie-break set,” Smyth said of the junior. “She faced match point and recovered to pull it out.”

The Spartans’ other wins came in doubles. The top team of senior Selen Gokcen and junior Saila Khuntia triumphed 6-3, 4-6, 10-4, while sophomores Marina Raynaud and Emily Meng recorded a 6-4, 6-2 victory at No. 2. Smyth called up Glenda Boeker and Mandy Lai from junior varsity to play No. 3 doubles, and the sophomores came through 6-4, 7-5.

“I took a little chance, because we’ve been hit and miss at No. 3,” the coach said. “Marina and Emily play 1 and 2 singles on JV, and they’re good pals.”

In Thursday’s win, the Spartans swept the singles. Pruett “played her best match of the season,” Smyth said, winning 6-4, 6-0 against a girl from Lynbrook she lost to earlier in the season.

Mountain View’s strength all season has been singles, according to the coach, with most of the victories coming in straight sets. Joshi and sophomore Dasha Terson, who plays at No. 2, “both often win 6-0, 6-0,” Smyth said.

The Spartans enter the Central Coast Section team playoffs, scheduled to begin Monday afternoon, with a 12-2 overall record. They also qualified for CCS last year – earning an at-large berth after finishing second to rival Los Altos in the El Camino Division – and got as far as the second round.

“We’re going in pretty optimistic,” Pruett said of the playoffs. “I hope we can get to the second round or further. We have an amazing team.”

Mountain View won’t know its first-round foe until after Saturday’s CCS seeding meeting. The Spartans host the El Camino Division individual finals today.

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