By Keith Peters
One of the longest-running league winning streaks in any sport for some time has been a family affair for the Menlo School girls' tennis team.
Of the six current seniors on the Knights' roster, three of them have sisters who played for Menlo and helped keep a remarkable string of victories intact.
On Thursday, seniors Eliza Adams and Stephanie Carlisle helped keep the family tradition going for Menlo, which captured its 17th consecutive league championship with a 6-1 triumph over visiting Harker in a West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) finale.
The victory wrapped up a 10-0 finish in the division (17-5 overall) and improved the Knights' remarkable winning streak in league matches to 178-0 since the beginning of the 1994 season.
"It's unbelievable, when you think about it," said Adams, who teamed with Saga Shermis for a 6-2, 6-0 victory at No. 1 doubles. "We were always aware of the streak. We didn't want to be on the team that lost the streak."
The streak has been kept alive over the years thanks to various sisters at Menlo. Adams had two older siblings, Majorie and Carly, play for the Knights while Carlisle had sisters Ashley and Allison compete before her.
"We did our part," Carlisle said Thursday after she and partner Jackie Fancher won their No. 2 doubles match, 6-3, 6-3.
"When you think about the number, it's amazing," Adams said.
It's even more amazing considering that Adams and Carlisle were born in 1993, the last time Menlo lost a girls' tennis match in league play – to St. Ignatius in the Girls Private School League regular-season finale. The following season, when Adams and Carlisle were learning to walk and talk, the streak began.
"It's just rolling right along," said Menlo coach Bill Shine, who improved to 351-59 in his 16th season at the school and was happy to see the streak survive another year. "The girls take pride working hard in practice, improving as the season goes along. This team doesn't want the season to end."
It won't, at least for a while. Menlo will host the WBAL individual tournament on Monday and Tuesday before the Central Coast Section team tourney gets under way on Nov. 10. Menlo probably will receive the No. 4 seed behind Saratoga, Monta Vista and Mitty and have a bye into the quarterfinals on Nov. 12. The semifinals will be Nov. 15 at Courtside Tennis Club in Los Gatos, with the finals returning there two days later.
Menlo has compiled yet another successful season with perhaps its youngest lineup ever. The Knights have sophomores Giannina Ong and Laura Gradiska plus freshmen Kristy Jorgensen and Christine Eliazo playing singles.
Adams, Carlisle, Madeline Berry (doubles), Lauren Robinson (No. 3 doubles), Monica Rosenkranz and Caitlyn Peltz are the only seniors. Berry also had sisters (Jessica and Jennifer) play for Shine.
Against Harker on Thursday, Menlo had three seniors, three sophomores, four freshmen and no juniors on the court. Thus, the future -- and the possibility of the streak continuing – look bright.
Also on Thursday:
Menlo-Atherton defeated visiting Woodside, 6-1, to advance to the finals of the Peninsula Athletic League playoffs, where the Bears (12-5) will host Carlmont on Friday to decide the league's second automatic berth into the Central Coast Section tournament.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, host Sacred Heart Prep (7-3, 15-6) made its final tuneup before CCS a good one with a 6-1 victory over Castilleja.
Palo Alto clinched no worse than a tie for the SCVAL De Anza Division title with a 25-16, 25-19, 25-15 victory over host Saratoga on Thursday. Melanie Wade had 15 kills for the Vikings (9-1, 27-1), who lead by two games with two to play.
Gunn, meanwhile, clinched the SCVAL El Camino Division title with a 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 victory over host Lynbrook on Thursday night. The Titans (10-0, 22-4) were led by Julia Maggioncalda's 12 kills. Gunn has won 10 straight with two league matches remaining.
Sacred Heart Prep remained in a tie for first place in the WBAL Foothill Division with a 18-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-8 victory over visiting Castilleja on Thursday night. The Gators (7-1, 17-9) were led by Jesse Ebner with 15 kills and four blocks while Sarah Daschbach and Sonia Abuel-Saud each had 15 kills.
Also in the WBAL, Menlo School ended a two-match losing streak by defeating Harker, 25-21, 25-15, 26-24, in San Jose. The Knights improve to 17-9 overall and 4-3 in the division.
For Menlo, senior Jazmin Moledina hit .300 with nine kills, four digs and three blocks. Freshman Maddie Huber added eight kills and a team-high 14 digs, and classmate Melissa Cairo had 12 digs. Junior Natalie Roy had eight kills and 11 digs, and senior Anelise Hohl had six kills and two aces. Sophomore Drew Edelman added four kills for the balanced Knight attack.
Freshman outside hitter Maddy Frappier made her first-ever start at the setter position, and tallied 31 assists, 10 digs and three blocks.
"It was a very nice team win tonight," said Menlo coach Chris Crader. "Everyone played well, and we played well together, which was a big part of our success. And I thought Maddy did a terrific job stepping in at the setter position tonight, and really ran our offense very well considering that she's been a hitter her entire life."
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton swept Mills, 25-11, 25-10, 25-16. Senior Regina Mullen had seven kills and five digs for the Bears (10-2, 17-7) while senior Sofi King added 10 assists and seven aces. Freshman Pauli King had six kills and four aces plus two blocks while senior Diane Seely contributed seven kills and two blocks in the quick victory.
Girls' water polo
With junior Pippa Temple scoring five goals and senior goalie Catherine Donahoe getting 12 saves, Sacred Heart Prep wrapped up the West Catholic League regular-season title with a 13-3 dunking of host Mitty on Thursday. Emily Parsons, Erin Sheridan and Sarah Westcott all added two goals each while playing suffocating defense.