It was a highly successful weekend for a quartet of local boy's tennis teams, all of which reached a title match at the California High School Boys Tennis Classic in Fresno with three teams bringing home titles.
Menlo School won the 16-team Open Division title with a 4-0 record while Gunn took the division's consolation crown while finishing 3-1. In Division III, Palo Alto compiled a 5-0 mark while winning that title while Menlo-Atherton reached the finals in Division II before losing to Los Altos and finishing at 3-1.
"It was a good start," said Menlo coach Bill Shine, who guided his squad to a 27-0 record last year that included victories over Saratoga in the Central Coast Section and NorCal finals.
Menlo pretty much picked off where it left off as the Knights downed the Falcons in the championship match on Saturday, 5-2. Menlo took a pair of singles matches behind triumphs from senior Andrew Carlisle and freshman JT Nishimura before sweeping the doubles despite the presence of only one senior -- Kyle Sum at No. 2 doubles.
Menlo beat Saratoga with two seniors, one junior, five sophomores and two freshmen.
"We're very young, but very talented and very experienced," Shine said. "And, they're so much better than last year."
The Knights lost only three matches during the two days. Menlo opened with a 7-0 victory over Oak Ridge and followed that with a 7-0 win over a good Santa Barbara team. In the semifinals, the Knights prevailed over Piedmont, 6-1.
"I'm really lucky to have a group of kids like this," Shine said.
Sophomore Andrew Ball, who dropped his No. 1 singles match in the finale, was coming off a victory in the 18-under division at the Junior Excellence tournament two weeks ago in Fresno. He's only 15.
While Menlo will take a 5-0 overall record into Tuesday's West Bay Athletic League home match against Sacred Heart Prep, Shine says it's way too early to be making comparisons to last year's squad that won every major title available.
"It's harder to repeat," said Shine, "and they're going to find out. Every team will be coming at us."
While Menlo won the Open Division title, Gunn took the consolation crown in that division after losing its opener to a good Monte Vista (Danville) team. The Titans then defeated Dana Hills, 4-3, and toppled Mitty, 5-2, before edging Viewpoint, 4-3, for consolation honors.
Palo Alto, meanwhile, overcame its relative inexperience to win the 16-team Division III.
"It was not an easy task," said Paly coach Andy Harader, "but we'll take it. We lost eight out of 10 starters from last year so, to make our season more palatable, we played Division III."
While the Vikings (6-2) may struggle during a rebuilding season in the SCVAL De Anza Division, Harader was happy to see his players rewarded on Saturday following a 4-2 win over Liberty (Brentwood).
"My top two players are freshmen," Harader said of Austin Leung and Blake Smith. "Neither highly ranked (in NorCal). Our doubles have been our strength, so far. Out of eight matches, we have only lost three individual doubles, and that was to Saratoga."
Paly opened with a 4-2 win over Buchanan before handing Valley Christian a 5-1 loss. East Bakersfield fell to the Vikings in the third round, 4-2, before Paly topped Turlock in the semifinals, 5-1.
Paly's No. 2 doubles team of Scott Monismith and Lucas Fodor remained unbeaten.
In Division II, Menlo-Atherton opened with a 6-0 win over the No. 2 squad from Monte Vista (Danville). The Bears then downed Tamalpais, 4-2, and defeated Granite Bay, 4-2, before dropping a 4-2 decision in the title match to Los Altos.
Despite having its top athletes away at a meet in Texas, the Palo Alto girls swam away with the team crown at the annual Palo Alto Spring Invitational on Saturday.
The Vikings won only six total events, but captured all three relays and used their depth to score 258 points. King's Academy was second with 140 and Los Gatos third with 139. More than 400 swimmers took part in the meet.
Sophomore Molly Zebker won the 200 IM in 2:16.36, junior Laura Cui won the 100 breast in 1:10.14 and senior diver Grace Greenwood won the 1-meter board with 235.80 points for Paly's individual winners.
The Vikings took the 200 medley relay in 1:56.00, won the 200 free relay in 1:45.43 and finished off the meet with a victory in the 400 free relay in 3:51.62. Relay members included Paige Devine, Cui, Zebker, Jennifer Chang, Kristina Xiang, Kim Hallsted, and Rachelle Holmgren.
In the boys' meet, Palo Alto finished third with 162 points while Los Gatos won the title with 245 and Monta Vista took second with 182 points. Paly failed to have any individual winners as the top Vikings also were gone to Texas for the Southern Zone-Speedo Champions Series meet in College Station.
Eric Peske of Los Gatos was the top individual performer as he took the 50 free in 21.03 and 100 free in 47.26, both CCS-quality times.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, took part in the Jesuit Invitational in the Sacramento area and came away with some decent times but no individual winners in the large meet.
Sophomore Erica Myers was fifth in the girls' 100 back in 1:02.77, freshman Selby Sturzenegger was sixth in the 200 IM (2:15.70), seventh in the 100 breast (1:10.45) and eighth in the 100 fly (1:02.82). Senior Andrew Savage clocked a solid 1:50.57 in the 200 free while finishing 13th.
Stefan Weidemann of Gunn, Andre Delagnes of Menlo-Atherton and Kalen Gans of Palo Alto all came away from the CIF State Championships without the medal they were seeking following this past weekend's meet at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.
Weidemann, a senior, saw his prep career end two matches short of gaining a medal. He wrestled five times, going 3-2.
"It's a shame," said Gunn coach Chris Horpel. "His two losses were winnable matches that he just came up short in. Great season . . . frustrating end."
Weidemann was ranked No. 8 in the state at 152 pounds prior to the meet, but lost his opening match to unseeded Alfredo Nava-Arroyo of Santiago, 8-7. That dropped Weidemann into the consolation bracket where he defeated Sam Hopkins of St. Francis, 9-1, in a rematch of the CCS championship match that Weidemann won.
Weidemann then decisioned Tanner Sherrow of Bret Harte, 7-1 and pinned Kevin Burrage of Del Oro in 4:13. In his fifth match, Weidemann dropped a 3-0 decision to Gianier Yanez of Servite.
In the 119-pound division, M-A's Delagnes (a junior) won his opener with a pin in 4:44 against Ronnie Stevens of Oakdale. In Round 2, Delagnes again came up with a pin, this time in 1:32 over Wayland Zhao of Oakland.
Delagnes, however, met his match in the third round and dropped a 14-0 decision to Gilbert Nakatani of Northview. Delagnes saw his state meet end in his next match, a 10-2 loss to Dean O'Bourke of Fountain Valley.
Palo Alto's Gans, also a junior, didn't make it past the first day. He dropped a 2-1 decision to Eric Davila of Firebaugh and then was eliminated in a 3-0 decision to Adam Busch of Castro Valley.