Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 12, 2013

Gunn boys' tennis has plenty to celebrate

Titans closing in on SCVAL El Camino Division title and will have new home courts play on next season

by Keith Peters

The 2014 high school boys' tennis season will mark a special anniversary for the Gunn High boys' tennis program. It will be 35 years since the Titans saw their state-record win streak come to an end.

Gunn set the record from 1969-79, winning a remarkable 200 dual matches in a row. According to the Cal-Hi Sports record book, it remains the longest streak in any prep sport in state history.

The current Titans' tennis team will have something to celebrate, too — new courts.

The Gunn boys and girls have been without their campus courts since they were dug up in the summer of 2011 to make room for the school's new gymnasium. The new courts will be built behind the new gym.

Gunn coach Jim Gorman can't wait to get back to campus. For the past two years, his teams have called the Cubberley Community Center courts as home — and not as home, sweet home.

"I've had more problems this year than last year," Gorman said. "I don't get as many kids coming out because it's hard to get here."

With school letting out at 3:35 p.m., and matches (and practices) at Cubberley starting at 3, getting enough players out in time has been task Gorman didn't have to worry about with on-campus courts. Last season the Gunn boys and girls practiced at 6 a.m.

"I've got 16 players and I don't think I've yet to play a full team," Gorman said. "Today, all three doubles teams have never played together."

Gorman said there have been five matches this season where he has had to pull up at least one frosh-soph player in order to complete this lineup. The Titans actually had to default one individual match when not enough players were available.

Practice can be even worse.

"I typically get eight players," Gorman said. "One day, only four showed up. Last year was worse for practice."

Gorman said the late class dismissal, coupled with having to drive down busy Arastradero after school and dealing with the pressures of getting high grades have contributed to often not fielding the strongest team possible.

"Tennis is their last priority," Gorman said of his varsity team members. "Kids beg to be the last match on the court at Cubberley so they can stay in class later."

Despite all the problems, Gunn has fashioned a successful 10-1 record in the SCVAL El Camino Division (11-5 overall) and should be headed back to the De Anza Division next season.

The Titans' 5-2 victory over visiting Homestead on Tuesday clinched no worse than a tie for the division title with one league match remaining. Second-place Mountain View is reportedly 8-2 with both losses to Gunn. The Spartans have two matches remaining and need to win both while Gunn loses, in order to forge a co-championship.

The Titans, however, defeated Santa Clara in their first meeting on Feb. 27 by 7-0.

Gunn took care of Homestead quickly by sweeping the singles in straight sets behind victories by Ameya Rao, Jake Chua-Gonzani, Daniel Jacobson and Mario Khosla. For good measure, the Titans' No. 1 doubles team of Avner Kreps and Alex Matthys posted a fast 6-1, 6-0 triumph to get things rolling.

Gunn will be in Davis on Friday for a rare tri-meet with its host and Monte Vista (Danville). Then the Titans will turn their attention to making their league title official with a match at Santa Clara next Wednesday.

"I've never emphasized winning a title, just matches," said Gorman. "I've never put it to them as an honor, but maybe I should . . . I'm always happy to win league."

Gunn's title should be one of three for local teams this season.

Menlo School (9-0, 16-1) all but wrapped up a 17th consecutive title under coach Bill Shine with a 7-0 romp over visiting Priory on Wednesday in a makeup match. On Tuesday, Menlo topped visiting King's Academy by the same score. The Knights lost only three games against King's and just four against Priory while dominating play.

The Knights have never lost a league match during Shine's tenure, which began in 1997. That streak now stretches to a remarkable 191 straight over three different leagues — Private Schools Athletic League, PAL Bay Division and West Bay Athletic League.

Menlo-Atherton is closing in on yet another PAL Bay Division crown after defeating visiting Burlingame on Tuesday, 5-2, and host Hillsdale on Wednesday, 7-0. The Bears (11-1, 15-2) began the week with a 5-2 win over Mills and will play a total of four times this week.

Menlo-Atherton, however, saw its streak of four straight undefeated league seasons end last week in a 5-2 loss at Carlmont. That snapped a streak of 65 straight league victories for the Bears, who lost two starters (academically ineligible) just minutes before the match with the Scots.

Menlo-Atherton will host Sacred Heart Prep in a nonleague match Monday at 4 p.m. The Gators tuned up with a 6-1 win over Pinewood this week while improving to 6-3 in the WBAL and 10-7 overall.

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