Battle for the banner

Patrick Mi

Varsity girls tennis faced a tough loss against Saratoga in their CCS Championship game

The varsity girl’s tennis team started off the season with a first place finish in the California High School Tennis Classic tournament and mustered up an undefeated league record.  Unfortunately, the team ended the league season with a 2-5 loss in the final round of CCS against Saratoga on Nov. 18.

"The pressure wasn’t just from CCS. We also had a lot of pressure coming in because we’re expected to be the winners," senior Tara Nguyen said.

The team had to win four out of the seven matches in order to win the CCS Championship. Unfortunately, though they were set to take first in CCs, the Matadors were forced to take home the second place trophy.

"We were the favorites, and they were the underdogs," senior Annalisa Choy said.

 
Choy and Nguyen competed together as one of the three doubles teams in the tournament.  Both made it on varsity as freshmen and have played alongside each other ever since then, which was apparent in their dynamic team chemistry on the court. 
 
Choy started off strong in her first game of the match  with an attack at the net, sending the ball straight down into the court. After a serving curse that caused eight mis-serves in a row (four from MVHS and four from Saratoga) , the Falcons managed to win another game to put them in the lead 2-1.  
 
Choy quickly tied the score by serving five aces in a row into weak spots of Falcon territory. However, once the Falcons had served, Choy had trouble directing the ball where she wanted it, and the Falcons stole the lead again with a score of 3-2.  
 

Though Nguyen started off the next game with three powerful aces, this was the closest the Matadors would get in the match as the pair soon lost their rhythm.  Unfortunately, their next few plays sent the ball right into the net and out of bounds. The Falcons took advantage of the Matadors’ errors and won the match with a score of 6-2.
 
At the beginning of the second set, Nguyen immediately scored with two impressive winners — a big momentum booster for the pair, as it soon contributed to their smart plays in the court. With strong volleys and persistent attacks, the team managed to keep the score close throughout the set. When the Falcons won a game, the pair responded with more energy to win the next game. 
  
Soon enough, the Matadors won another game, trailing the Falcons with a close score of 5-4 thanks to Nguyen’s powerful serves and smart placing of the ball. Unfortunately, they fell just short towards the end and lost the set 6-4.
 
Nguyen admitted that their inconsistency in ball control, which led to hitting the ball out of bounds, led to their loss.
 

 Along with tough losses in doubles, MVHS also struggled in singles. In the number one singles game, junior Sylvia Li battled it out against the 

 Falcons.

Li started off the first game of the set a bit unevenly, barely making her returns, which allowed her opponent to win the first game. The same mistakes continued on into the third game, with the Falcons up  3-0 after they made some powerful shots that the Matadors could not return. 

She came back in the fourth game, overcoming her opponent in strong rallies, making the score 1-3. In the next two games, she began to struggle against the power behind her opponents swings, and frustratingly gave up the two games leaving the Falcons just one game away from winning a set.

Unwilling to surrender, Li returned in the next game, starting off down 0-30, then picking up the momentum after a carefully placed slice, eventually winning the game and making the score 2-5. Her short-lived comeback was not enough to slow down the Falcons, winning the first set of the match 2-6, after a powerful hit causes Li to lose power on her ball, sending it into the net.

The second set began with a loss for MVHS, as Li still struggled against the Falcons hits. After two aces in the second game by the Falcons, Li was down 0-2. After three more games, strong finishes to rallies and even stronger serves brought Li within striking range, with a game score of 2-3.

Continuing her comeback, Li used well- placed slices to win two more games, putting her in the lead by one game, 4-3.

During the next game, a small disagreement occured when the Falcons’ player called a ball out, which Li and many spectators strongly believed was in. A line judge was brought in and the match continued, with Saratoga pulling into a tie game at 4-4.

In a tight battle with both players trading games, they ended up at 6-6, in a tiebreak. If Li won the tiebreak, another set would have been played, giving her a chance to take the game back, but if she lost, the Falcons would take the match. With immense pressure Li duked it out with her opponent, with multiple rallies extending the tiebreak continuously. Eventually, the pressure got to her, and after an extremely fast hit from the Falcons, Li lost the final match of the day.

Although Li had already won two matches against the same girl, the pressure of the CCS championships got to her, "I had one good drop shot, but overall [I] did pretty [badly] ," said Li, "[I] should have not gotten so nervous."

 
 
"They stole our thunder," Choy and Nguyen said together.
 
However, the Matadors are determined to reclaim their thunder for their last tournament of the season on Friday Nov. 20.
 

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