Trio aiming to ace section tournament

A trio of San Mateo County prep tennis players will hit the courts at the Courtside Club in Los Gatos on Monday with the same goal in mind: capturing the Central Coast Section girls’ individual championship for 2010.

But after the two-day championships conclude, there can only be one left standing on top of the winning podium, and in addition to the county’s three entrants, there are 13 other players from across the section to get past.

Menlo School’s Giannina Ong is the only one of the three to be seeded in the bracket, drawing a
No. 3 seed, and will open her title run against Salinas’ Joy Johnson. Should Ong win her initial match, her second-round opponent will be the winner between Santa Teresa’s Najeh Simmons and Mountain View’s Iva Celan.

The opening two rounds will be played Monday, with the semis and final matches played Tuesday afternoon. That means if Ong advances to Tuesday’s rounds, she could face Burlingame’s Brook Tsu in the semifinals.

Tsu will begin Monday against Aptos’ Haley Kepler, with a chance to advance to a quarterfinal matchup against the winner of No. 2-seeded Sylvia Li of Monte Vista and Silver Creek’s Julie Leong.

“She is a heady, smart player who plays like a 35-year-old man,” Burlingame coach Bill Smith said of Tsu. “She has all of the strokes and more finesse than most players her age.”

Tsu comes into the bracket with just four losses on the year, and the junior is looking to avenge last year’s showing in the CCS tournament when a bad cold had her well off her game.

“She just didn’t have it that day,” Smith said. “But she has the ability to be a Pac-10 player when she moves on to college.”

The path to the championship is a lot tougher for the third county player, Menlo-Atherton’s Paige Keating, who brings a 16-5 record into her senior year and a trip to spend the next four years at the University of Mississippi looming in 2011.

But Keating will face St. Ignatius’ Claudine Lew in the opening round. The Keating-Lew winner will then meet either No. 1 seed Crystal Yen of Saratoga or St. Francis’ Mary Closs  in the second round. Still, Keating’s coach isn’t so ready to write off her chances.

“She has a huge game,” Menlo-Atherton coach Tom Sorenson said. “She can beat anyone in the section on a given day. Her downfall has been consistency, but if she is consistent, she will be hard to beat.”

The matches begin at noon on both days.

Tennis anyone?

WHAT: Central Coast Section Individual Tennis Championships
WHERE: Courtside Club, Los Gatos
WHEN: Monday-Tuesday, noon start on both days
WHO: Three San Mateo County singles players will be competing: Menlo’s Giannina Ong, Menlo-Atherton’s Paige Keating and Burlingame’s Brook Tsu

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