Oak Ridge tennis drops NorCal opener
SACRAMENTO — Oak Ridge saw its season end Friday at the hands of Menlo-Atherton which dealt the Lady Trojans a 2-5 first-round, CIF NorCal Championships exit at the Natomas Racquet Club.
Menlo won three-of-four singles and two-of-three doubles. The NorCal format featured seven instead of nine matches, forcing Oak Ridge to juggle its lineup. Trojan wins came from Taja Chalamcherla at No. 3 singles and the doubles duo of Jessica Williams-Haesoo Kim.
Seeded sixth in the 10-team championship bracket, the Trojans faced stiff competition. Del Oro, the team that denied Oak Ridge a section title two weeks ago, was routed 0-7 by Tamalpais.
Troy play well in qualifying for NorCals in the program’s first-ever D-1 appearance — defeating Bella Vista 8-1 to get in — but success at last weekend’s two-day tournament required their best. Menlo, the Central Coast Section’s second-place team, was seeded third at Natomas.
“Every team is good when you reach NorCals so I was happy with the way we competed and have no complaints,” Oak Ridge coach Ralph Clark said. “The biggest takeaway is that we belong at this level and we want to be the one to win next year.”
Chalamcherla, undefeated during league with just one postseason loss, put aside her opponent’s intimidation tactics to prevail 6-1, 6-4 and give the Trojans their first team point.
“She hit really hard and had a lot of pace and power to her shots but the biggest thing for me was to stay focused,” Chalamcher;a said. “She’s ranked high so this was good for my confidence.”
While Oak Ridge was on the board, Menlo had all but wrapped up the win with singles victories over Rachel Librach (No. 3), Miranda Miller (No. 4) and Troy’s doubles pairs Hannah Crookham-Ashlee Gonzales (No. 1), their first time together, and Heather Dunham-Emily Abraham (No. 3).
The Trojans’ other point came at No. 2 doubles when Kim-Williams held on for the 7-5, 6-3 victory. Williams made adjustments due to the windy conditions to serve up the match-winner.
“We were winning by a lot (first set) but then they came back to tie. The second set was neck-and-neck but we were always up by one,” the two said.
Oak Ridge’s Madeline Almeida (No. singles) battled in her match against an older and bigger opponent. Almeida seized the opening set 6-3 but lost the next two 1-6, 2-6.
“She (Menlo No. 1 singles) adjusted, became more consistent and just started playing better,” Clark said of Almeida’s opponent.
Note: Clark expects to return next season. The program’s last NorCal match came in 2006 as a D-II team.