Sports

Menlo girls tennis again are as good as Gould in the WBAL

 

Junior Taylor Gould made a triumphant return and the Menlo School girls' tennis team won their 241st straight league dual match, beating visiting Sacred Heart Prep, 6-1, on Tuesday in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action.

The Knights retained their hold on first place while improving to 3-0 (7-4 overall) while the Gators suffered their first loss in league and dropped to 2-1 and 6-3.

Menlo's league winning streak is an ongoing state record.

SHP had hoped to threaten the record, but No. 1 singles player Sara Choy remained sidelined with an ankle injury.

Choy, a senior and a two-time CCS singles champ who has a record of 79-1 against high school opponents, has yet to play a match this season.

She suffered a severe ankle injury during a junior tournament in July. An ensuing medical procedure resulted in an infection that sent Choy to the hospital. She has since been rehabbing the injury and is expected to return to action within a few weeks.

Without Choy, the Knights rolled quickly and easily over their rivals.

"It's a big deal anytime you lose your No. 1," said Menlo coach Bill Shine, who used freshman Addie Ahlstrom at the top of the ladder in Gould's absence.

SHP coach Losaline Mafileo knew going in that her team was in for a battle.

"Sara hasn't played a match for us this season," she said. "It's nothing new for our girls. They have to take this as a good practice match and learn from it."

Senior Melina Stavropoulos has shown resiliency at the No. 1 singles position for SHP and has given her team a great effort every time out.

"Even without Sara, our girls are doing great," said Mafileo, whose Gators suffered 4-3 losses in both meetings with the Knights last season. "We've had some close matches and, Menlo is Menlo."

Menlo, of course, has been threatened only a few times over the decades of its dominance in the various leagues it has played in.

"What I'm most proud of is the consistency we've had over the years," said Shine.

Shine welcomed back Gould to the No. 1 singles spot. Gould suffered an ankle injury in the opening match of the Golden State Classic a few weeks ago at Stanford University and was sidelined until Tuesday.

"Taylor worked hard to get back," Shine said. "This was the match to do that."

Gould was expecting to face Choy, but that duel will have to wait until the team meet again next month. She faced Stavropoulos on Tuesday and prevailed with a solid 6-3, 6-1 victory.

In the meantime, the Knights are back at full strength and ready to take on the rest of the season with a lineup that includes three freshman starters: Ahlstrom at No. 2 singles, Lindsay Ball at No. 3 singles and Penelope Anderson at No. 3 doubles. All three had a hand in Tuesday's triumph.

Ahlstrom continued her fine season with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Isa Robinson. Ball, who is following in the footsteps of her four older brothers at Menlo, also looked solid with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Katherine Salisbury.

"Finally, Lindsay Ball gets to play for a team she's been watching all her life," said Shine, alluding to the legacy of the Ball family.

Anderson, meanwhile, teamed with Charlotte Lee to post a 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 3 doubles.

Menlo also won at No. 4 singles as Elika Eshghi posted a 6-2, 6-0 win over Nooryan Jafri. The Knights recorded a 6-2, 6-3 triumph at No. 1 singles behind the tandem of Vivian Liu and Kathryn Wilson over Nathalie Rotenberg and Emily McGrath.

The Gators picked up their lone win at No. 2 doubles with Lindsay Marcus and Sarah McGrath recording a 6-2, 3-6, 11-9 win.

"The challenge today was to keep our energy level up," Shine said. "This was definitely a good win for us."

— Special to Palo Alto Online Sports

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