SHP's Choy keeps unbeaten streak alive with CCS singles title


Sara Choy has been unbeatable against high school competition during her first two tennis seasons at Sacred Heart Prep. She was 33-0 last season and 26-0 this year for a sparkling 59-0 mark. She hasn't even lost a set during that time.

This season included a second straight West Bay Athletic League singles crown and, on Tuesday, the top-seeded Choy claimed her second consecutive Central Coast Section singles title following a 6-4, 6-0 triumph over No. 3 seed Sarah Bahsoun of Los Gatos at Bay Club Courtside in Los Gatos.

After beating Menlo School freshman Ashley Vielma in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-0, and then rallying past Bahsoun, the 4-foot-11 Choy added her name to the CCS history book by becoming only the eighth girl to win back-to-back titles since 1975. Former Stanford All-Americans Linda Gates (Burlingame) and Lisa Green (Pioneer) each won just one title.

"Pound for pound, she's as good as I've seen around here," said Jeff Arons, the director of tennis at Sacred Heart Prep and former Stanford All-American who has been playing and teaching tennis in the local area for most of his 54 years.

With two years remaining, Choy can make more history with a third straight championship next season.

"That's my next goal," Choy said.

Choy has accomplished much during her budding career. In recent months, she has won two national titles in the 16s age division -- she ranks No. 5 in the nation in that bracket. After the CCS Individual Tournament was delayed a week by inclement weather, Choy took the time off to play in a USTA National Selection (Level 2) Tournament in Irvine over the Thanksgiving break.

Playing in the 18s division, Choy played six matches in four days and ended up claiming the title. She won every match in straight sets and played just two tiebreakers. As for the level of competition, Menlo-Atherton's Lanie Van Linge, the PAL Bay Division singles champ, lost in the Round of 32 and Carina Burdick of Los Altos, who teamed with Juliette Martin to win the CCS doubles title, lost in the opening round.

"It was a really good tournament," said Choy. "One of my best tournaments ever. The competition was fierce . . . it was really hard."

Choy said the national tournament was a good tuneup for Tuesday's semifinals and finals. Choy breezed past Vielma like she did to win the WBAL title, but Bahsoun provided a different challenge. Choy had expected to face No. 2 seed Ashley Yeah of Los Gatos, but Yeah defaulted in order to play elsewhere.

Choy, then, had to re-adjust to a different opponent who provided a different look as a lefty. Choy actually trailed in the first set, 4-2.

"In my mind, I was very frustrated," Choy said. "I lost focus and I was angry at myself. I had to put the past out of my mind and just play every point."

Choy battled back and held serve to close to 4-3. She then broke Bahsoun to deadlock the match at 4. Choy held serve for a 5-4 lead and broke her opponent again to take the first set. With her confidence back and momentum on her side, Choy broke Bahsoun three times in the second set -- including the deciding point.

Despite having her unbeaten streak on the line, Choy was able to concentrate on the moment.

"When I'm on the court, I try not to think about those things," she said.

Her latest title, meanwhile, presents a clutter problem for the Palo Alto resident. Where are all those medals and trophies being stored?

"I ran out of room in my room," she said. "We're putting them in the living room now."

Choy will be gunning for more hardware over Christmas break later this month when she competes in the 16s singles in a USTA Level 1 tournament in Arizona.

Notes: The No. 3-seeded team of sophomore Julia Marks and freshman Yvette Leung of Menlo-Atherton fell in the doubles semifinals on Tuesday to the No. 2-seeded tandem of Pamela Duke and Elizabeth Schick of Harker, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Marks and Leung hadn't played doubles prior to the postseason, but helped the Bears to an 18-4 record during the regular season with Marks playing mostly at No. 2 singles and Leung at No. 3. They had qualified for CCS by winning the PAL Bay Division doubles crown by topping teammates Julia Chang and Sally Carlson.

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