Menlo rolls to NorCal tennis championship

Bellarmine puts up a half-hearted effort without its regular lineup in 7-0 loss to Knights

It should have been an exciting time for members of the Menlo School boys' tennis team, when they wrapped up the program's sixth Northern California championship on Saturday with a 7-0 victory over Bellarmine. However, it was anything but that.

"I apologized to my players for the effort of the Bellarmine players," said Menlo coach Bill Shine. "They didn't get the respect or the high from winning NorCals that they deserved. We knew it was over after the first game. It was disrespectful to the sport."

Shine and his players went into the NorCal Tournament at the Diamond Hills Sports Club in Oakley expecting to face Bellarmine in a rematch of their Central Coast Section title match, which the Knights won 4-3 after racing to a 4-0 lead. The NorCal finale, however, wasn't even close.

More than one Bellarmine player decided, instead, to compete in the Spare Time Memorial Day Junior Excellence tournament in Roseville. That group included the Bells' top player, Eric Johnson. Doubles player Steven Chung also was missing, although he was not listed to play in Roseville. Four Menlo players – Daniel Hoffman, Jamin Ball, Max Glenn and Justin Chan – also were slated to play in the same event.

The Menlo players, however, contacted officials at the junior tournament and explained their situation with NorCals, and had their matches on Saturday scheduled after 6:30 p.m. All four Menlo players competed in their two NorCal matches Saturday before heading off to Roseville, where all four won again. The Bellarmine players made no such plans with the junior event and weren't on hand to face Menlo.

"Without those guys, they're a completely different team," Shine said of the missing Bells. "To be completely honest about it, they (the Bells) didn't give it their best effort; they rolled over."

Ball, a junior playing No. 2 singles for Menlo, raced to a 5-0 lead before asking Shine what was going on.

"None of them were trying," Shine explained of the Bellarmine players.

To make matters worse, Shine said Bellarmine coach Reno Davenport told him that his missing players were at graduation ceremonies. That wasn't necessarily the case, however, because Johnson is a sophomore and had his junior tourney results posted at for all to see. Bellarmine's graduation was Saturday at 10 a.m., but senior Alex Wall was the team's only starter who was graduating.

Without Johnson in the singles lineup, the Bells were no match for Menlo. Davenport even brought up a JV player to compete at No. 4 singles, but Davenport didn't even know his own player's name when the lineups were announced.

"That was embarrassing for the player," Shine said.

Hoffman led the way at No. 1 singles with a 6-3, 6-0 thumping of Ian Clark at No. 1 singles. Ball whipped Michael Chang at No. 2 singles, 6-0, 6-1. Glenn topped Garrett Taylor 6-3, 6-3, at No. 3 and Patrick Chase handed the poor JV player a 6-1, 6-1 beating.

In doubles, Menlo sophomore Andrew Carlisle and freshman Justin Chan produced a 6-1, 6-0 victory over the same Bellarmine doubles duo that had won at CCS in three sets. Menlo's Ryan Duggal and Kyle Sum won at No. 2, 6-4, 6-1; and the Knights' Jonathan Katzman and Brian Peltz breezed to a 6-0, 6-1 triumph at No. 3 doubles.

"It was pretty disappointing," Shine said of the final match. "The semifinals were great (a 7-0 win over Monte Vista-Danville). The matches were close and the energy was there. I said to myself it was going to be a great day. Lo and behold, that (the semis) was the finals."

Menlo finished the season 27-2, registering the most victories in school history.

"We played really well in the semifinals," Shine said. "Afterward I said there's no way we're going to lose today . . . It was a coach's dream to have that kind of effort to finish the season."

Latest prep scores, game details from PA Online


Like this comment
Posted by Bill Patton
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2009 at 8:16 am

No mention of the difficult semi-final played by Bellarmine against the unmentioned upstart Mission San Jose. To be fair, Bellarmine fought hard winning 3 out of 4 three set matches, and battled back from a 3-0 deficit to beat a deep Mission San Jose team 4-3. As an observer of that match, Bellarmine showed great passion to get to the final. Perhaps they were not able to summon the same passion 30minutes later, and maybe they were a bit tired. Menlo certainly did not struggle with Monte Vista.

It's not very classy for a coach to gripe about another team's lineup, because they did not make it fun enough. Too bad! As the Coach of Mission San Jose, if we had won that semifinal 4-3, I don't know that we would have pushed you any more, however we would have been honored to play the final against a fine Menlo Team. But now, hearing the complaining, I'm glad we did not face off, and meet with your public humiliation. Enjoy your excellent win!

Like this comment
Posted by Try This
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2009 at 8:39 am

"We are honored to win another NorCal title. It's too bad that Bellarmine was without some of its top players, and had to claw their way out of a tough Semi-Final. Just the same we are happy to be NorCal Champs."

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

We are fortunate on the Peninsula and the East Bay to have such remarkable schools with athletic opportunities and tremendous coaches. Watching all three teams play, Menlo, Mission-Fremont and Bellarmine, throughout the season has been fun and it's clear there are many excellent players. In my son's 4 Varsity years I've heard a lot of petty gripping and reasons for results, or lack thereof, but, in the end, it is about heart, practice and desire.
I've seen that from Menlo and Bellarmine on multiple occasions. However the NorCals felt anti-climatic after the fabulous CCS championship and perhaps that is what the reporter intended to note. Congratulations to Menlo for the three wins over the Bells, good luck to the Bells next year as well as Menlo and may they all meet in the championships again.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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