Eagles finish season on an upswing

 Melody Ghaffari
Barrett Wong/Special to the Town Crier
Melody Ghaffari plays No. 2 singles for the Los Altos High girls tennis team. The sophomore lost just one league match this year.

The Los Altos High girls tennis team made the most of its shortened season, winning all 14 of its matches.

The Eagles finished 12-0 in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division after recording three decisive wins last week; their other two victories came against teams in the SCVAL’s upper division.

While coach Hung Nguyen said he was pleased with his team’s success, he took more pride in how his girls handled a six-week season that was anything but ordinary. His players stayed ready during their extended off-season – “We were probably the most prepared team in the El Camino,” he said – and they more than tolerated his everyone-gets-to-play approach to this year.

“Everyone got in, and when they weren’t in (the lineup), they supported each other,” Nguyen said. “There was great team spirit – no one complained about not playing.”

His top four singles players and best three doubles teams played most of the matches, the coach noted, but the other 10 girls on the squad each competed in at least two matches.

“Any match I put them in, they didn’t miss a beat,” said Nguyen, whose roster included eight seniors. “That’s why I’m so proud of my entire team.”

Los Altos’ depth was on full display as it dismantled the rest of the division, with no win closer than 5-2. The Eagles didn’t lose a doubles match all year and only the top duo, Sofia Mujica and Sophia Shao, dropped a set (just one).

“No one could match our depth,” Nguyen said. “I think that even our (No.) 7 or 8 doubles team can compete with any doubles team in the league.”

In a normal year, Los Altos’ dominance would be rewarded with a move up to the De Anza Division next season. The league has decided there won’t be any movement after this truncated season, however, which means the Eagles will remain in the El Camino for at least another year.

“The good thing is that Gunn has decent singles players and Lynbrook is pretty good; they should probably give us most of the competition,” said Nguyen, adding that he anticipates his team being promoted to the De Anza in 2022. “We can’t complain too much (about staying down) – at least we got the season in.”

The coach only wishes he had more time with this group. Team captains Hannah Ghaffari and Maya Atassi helped set the team’s positive tone, according to Nguyen, along with fellow senior Navya Singhai, whom he called “a great role model for the young players.”

He added that Singhai – who primarily played No. 2 doubles with senior Megan Apfelberg – was the one who suggested the Eagles meet on the courts last Friday for a fun, postseason practice because the annual team party was canceled due to the pandemic.

The day before, Los Altos capped its season with a 6-1 home win over Fremont. Earlier in the week, the Eagles dispatched Wilcox 6-1 and Milpitas 7-0.

Los Altos’ closest match of the season came March 12 against rival Mountain View, a member of the De Anza Division. The Eagles prevailed 4-3 in what Nguyen called “our biggest win of the year.”

Melody Ghaffari, Hannah’s younger sister, decided the match with a super-tiebreaker win at No. 2 singles. Melody, a sophomore, lost just one league match this year (to Gunn), while Hannah put up eight wins playing No. 1 singles.

“The Ghaffari sisters have been great,” Nguyen said, “and they always support each other.”

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