Tino’s girls tennis team reached the quarterfinals of CCS — the furthest stage any Tino tennis team (girls or boys) has ever gotten to. An amazing achievement on its own and on Nov. 10th the team played against Los Gatos for a chance to advance to the semifinals. Los Gatos came in with a strong team and Tino needed a magical game to continue their impressive run in the tournament. Here’s how it played out:
Singles 1: Kate Duong
Kate walked onto the court with an impressive season record, and although she most looked forward to individual CCS, she knew that she would have to win her match to give her team a chance against Los Gatos. After warming up with serves and groundstrokes, she began the match with a dominant first game lead. With unforced errors on both sides Kate lost the second game when her opponent was serving. She then hit a powerful cross court forehand to begin the 3rd game of the match. With two strong serves Kate was up 40-0 and quickly made it 2-1. Her opponent responded with a quick game by utilizing smooth groundstrokes and eventually pull up to 2-2. Kate missed an overhead that could have sealed the game at 2-2 but instead Los Gatos number 1 took the lead at 3-2. Her opponent hit down the line slice, then Kate hit a stupendous forehand crosscourt (her opponent barely got the ball back) and Kate, at full stretch, drop volleyed it in the corner and won the point. However, things were not looking good as Kate began to give free points through unforced errors. As she shook her head in dismay, a couple of breaks of serve followed and Kate was down 2-5. Even though the odds were against her, she looked confident to mount a comeback. A back and forth battle at 40-40 ended with Los Gatos taking the final game of the set and going to a 6-2 lead in the match.
Even after losing the first set, her stern look and poise looked ready to start the second set on fire. She took the lead 1-0, stayed clean on her opponent's serve, and successfully held her own serve to make it 2-1 in her favor. After a long fourth game, in which Kate ran all over the court sending every ball back with intent to steal the point. She fought hard to pull it to 2-2 but her opponent’s quick reactions and effective ball placement gave her the edge at 3-2. After a long 1:30 hours of fighting, Kate could not pull out with the win. It was a rare loss for her, but still a valiant ending to her exceptionally successful individual season.
Singles 2: Tania Kabiraj
Tania was up against a tough opponent. As number 2 she played on the court right next to Kate. Although Tania lost the first set, she lost no hope in the match as she brought out a more aggressive approach in the second set. She stayed close to her opponent as it was neck and neck till 3-4. Whenever her opponent played a strong service game, Tania responded with an equally clean game herself. It was a little too late however, and her opponent pulled away 6-3 in the final set.
Singles 3: Sravanthi Dandamudi
The third seed from Tino lost her first set 6-4 but saw no need to worry. She played a consistent game in the second set and kept her cool throughout. By capitalizing on her strong serving, she was able to win games with ease. In returning games, she finished points quicker by targeting the corners of the court with extreme precision. Through this change in her game she was able to take the second set 6-1. Sravanthi began the third and final set in a similar fashion and got out to an early lead. Without being overwhelmed from the importance of the deciding set, she played consistently and sneaked away with the last set 6-4.
Singles 4: Irene Tsai
Another match happening on the opposite court, the fourth seed Irene quickly wrapped up the first set 6-2. She began strong in the second set but her opponent’s defensive style of play kept pushing the ball back no matter what Irene tried. She was down 4-1 in the second and quickly the opponent had tied the game at one set a piece, therefore beginning a third set decider. Whoever wins the third set wins the match.
The first point was long with Irene running all over the court to finally finish the point with a smart drop shot. From there she immediately broke her opponent to take a 1-0 lead. In her service game, Irene hit every corner, making her opponent fight for any points. At 40-15, Irene capitalized on the game point by serving out wide and immediately crushing the return down the line to go up 2-0. In the next game, Irene continued her dominance by pulling her opponent to the net with a drop shot and then hitting a smooth down the line passing winner, it became 3-0 in her favor. Irene continued with a calm and collected game style and showed intent to win the match. She hit an ace and made the third set score a dominant 4-1. Before long, she had wrapped up Tino’s first win of the match 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.
Doubles 1, Doubles 3 took the first set and looked menacing on the court in the second. Effective volleys from players such as Jasmine Li secured vital points that gave the team an edge over Los Gatos to force a tiebreak. But the game never looked easy, Los Gatos was beginning to come back in the Doubles games and took the first set in Doubles 2 and went on to continue their dominance in the second. They played consistently to reduce unforced errors and capitalized on weak serves from Tino. Doubles 1 lost their advantage as their opponents came back to tie the match one set all. It was the exact same story for Doubles 3 as both teams were pitted in a third set. An arduous neck and neck third set battle ensued for both matches, but the outcome was the same with Los Gatos taking both final sets 6-4.
1. Kate Duong (2-6, 2-6)
2. Tania Kabiraj (1-6, 3-6)
3. Sravanthi Dandamudi (4-6, 6-1, 6-4)
4. Irene Tsai (6-2, 2-6, 6-1)
1. Julie Huang and Johanna Fekadu (6-1, 2-6, 4-6)
2. Jasmine Li and Jenny Lu (6-7, 1-6)
3. Ruhi Dhayagude and Ji Su Song (6-4, 1-6, 4-6)
Many matches went to three sets signifying the team’s hard fought game. Even though the girls reached to the quarterfinals, they pushed their hardest to win — no match finished without a fight. Yes, they did lose in the end, but it was a historic season that was filled with tenacity and perseverance throughout its entirety.
Said coach Manny Zarate, “Although three of our best players are leaving this year, we have younger and stronger players who are going to get better and push us into the semifinals next season.”
The team as a whole was impressed with their performance, but still have more tennis to play. Many of the players are continuing on to individual CCS, where they are pitted against each other and players from schools all across the Bay Area. The team is expected to do well over there as well and hopefully achieve even greater success — thus, adding additional accolades to an already historic season.