When the annual High School All-American Tennis Classic for girls in Newport Beach was canceled about eight years ago, it left the top teams in the state without a place to test themselves.
The inaugural Golden State Tennis Classic, which wrapped up Saturday at Stanford University and Menlo School, may be that new event.
A field of 16 of the best teams in California and Hawaii competed over two days, with Peninsula High of Rolling Hills capturing the title with a 5-2 victory over Hawaii state champ Punahou on a cool day at the Taube Family Tennis Center.
Peninsula is the defending SoCal champion. Menlo School, the defending NorCal champ, grabbed third place with a 5-2 triumph over 2013 NorCal champ Monta Vista.
Clearly, the top teams in the tournament emerged, as expected.
"We obviously knew going in, it was going to be a lot of great competition, some of the best in the country," said Menlo coach Bill Shine. "So, I'm really pleased that they came in third, especially since we have some young kids on the team and it's their first time, playing in a team pressure situation like that, and really coming through. We're definitely a better team because of it."
Shine, who along with Monta Vista coach Gene Fortino, served as meet directors. Shine for one, believes this new tourney could be a fine replacement for the former All-American tourney. Being able to host the top teams at Stanford, of course, is crucial for the event continuing in the future.
Menlo went 3-1, with a 7-0 win over Valencia and a 4-3 triumph over Mira Costa on Friday.
"Valencia ended up doing really well in the tournament, so that was a good win," Shine said. "And Mira Costa was just as good as anyone in the tournament and right up there with Peninsula."
Saturday saw the Knights fall to Punahou, 6-1, before toppling Central Coast Section rival Monta Vista.
"Yes, absolutely," said Shine, when asked if the tourney served a purpose. "It was great for their (his players) confidence."
Against Punahou, which has won 42 state titles in Hawaii, all three doubles matches went to super-tiebreakers after Menlo had won the first sets. Freshman Taylor Gould was the lone Menlo winner, taking a 6-0, 6-4 triumph at No. 3 singles.
Against Monta Vista, the Knights' doubles teams bounced back from being swept and won all three matches in straight sets. The tandems of Melissa Tran and Mia McConnell, Schulyer Tilney-Volk and Vivian Liu plus Kathryn Wilson and Kaitlin Hao combined to lose just 12 games.
The Knights also got straight-set victories in singles from freshmen Ashley Vielma (6-1, 6-1 at No. 2) and Gould (6-2, 6-2 at No. 3).
Menlo-Atherton, meanwhile, finished 10th after falling to Amador Valley, 6-1, on Saturday at Menlo School. The Bears topped Leland in the day's first match, 6-1. On Friday, M-A fell to Monta Vista, 4-3, but edged Arroyo Grande (Pismo Beach), 4-3. M-A sophomore Lanie Van Linge won all four of her singles matches at No. 1.
Other top M-A players included Yvette Leung, Julia Marks, Elise Kratzer, Julia Chang, Sally Carlson, Beata Brenner, Sarah Tiemann, Amandda Scandalios and Natasha Auer. M-A opened defense of its PAL Bay Division title with a 7-0 win over Aragon earlier in the week.