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Daily Journal Female Tennis Player of the Year: Ava Martin of Menlo-Atherton | Local

Like many top junior players, Menlo-Atherton’s Ava Martin hasn’t appeared in every Bears’ Peninsula Athletic League game, focusing instead on the bigger and bigger ones.

Part of head coach Tom Sorenson’s reasoning is that he doesn’t believe anything wins for Martin or his opponent if the Bears’ No.1 junior singles player just gets a shutout.

“There’s no good reason and a lot of bad reasons to play Ava every game (PAL). I wouldn’t do that to other teams,” Sorenson said. “It allows me to play against d ‘other girls in the first place, where these clashes would be a challenge for both players. “

But the other part is that Sorenson wants to give Martin the best challenges she’ll face on the high school circuit and, more often than not, Martin has been successful. She went 8-1 in the regular season, losing just one set in PAL as she advanced to the PAL Singles Final. Two weeks later, she became the first PAL player since 2014 to play in the Central Coast Section singles championship match. Sandwiched between the two, she helped guide the Bears to a semi-final appearance at the CCS Tag Team Tournament, the first PAL public school team to do so in at least 21 years.

All in all, Martin went 14-2 to win the honor of Tennis Player of the Year from the Daily Journal Girls.

Despite all the personal accolades, Martin is still firmly committed to playing for MA. She’s been groomed since college, hitting with then-junior Allison Browne, the Bears’ No.1 player at the time. Martin knew the Bears had a strong program and wanted to be a part of it.

“I always wanted to play tennis in high school and help the team in some way. I love that. On MA we have such great energy, ”said Martin. “I feel like I would be doing my school a disservice if I didn’t play tennis in high school.

“(The team) creates positive energy.”

Although they only played a handful of games during the PAL season, they were still up against the best PAL had to offer – and PAL has a lot to offer. Martin went through them, losing just one set in the PAL game, beating Burlingame second-year Mila Mulready, 4-6, 6-3, (10-2).

“It added extra pressure because everyone I’ve played with this season was really good,” said Martin. “They all gave me competitive games.”

After an unbeaten PAL championship, the Bears entered the CCS tag team tournament as the No.5 seed and Martin shone as he helped guide MA to the semi-finals. The Bears clinched a 6-1 victory over Carlmont in the second round, then put on a dominating performance in a 7-0 win over Homestead in the quarter-finals, with Martin winning his game, 6-2, 6-1 .

In the semifinals, the Bears faced the top-ranked Harker School, who were also the defending CCS champions, defeating Menlo in the spring of 2021. As the Eagles won and claimed their second consecutive CCS title, Martin won their No.1 singles match in three sets against a familiar face. Harker’s sophomore Natasha Rajaram is Martin’s doubles partner for the junior tournaments, so despite the battle on the pitch, there was no real animosity.

“We knew we would remain friends,” said Martin. “We both went there wanting to… have fun.”

Sorenson is not surprised. He said Martin has the ability to be competitive without making it life or death.

“She is extremely well adjusted. She never seems to be in a situation where she is urgently aware of the importance of this game. She plays every game like it’s part of the process. This is just the next test, ”Sorenson said. “It was just an example of not having to hate your opponent or treat them like an enemy.”

This attitude manifested itself in the CCS Singles Championship match, as Martin won the CCS Sportsmanship Award for his kindness in a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 loss to seed Gayathari Krishnan. of Cupertino.

Already playing with his backup racquet due to a broken string in his semi-final victory earlier today, Krishnan broke a string in the first set against Martin. Without a third racket, Krishnan risked having to forfeit.

Instead, Martin fetched an extra racket from his bag and gave it to Krishnan, who won the CCS title.

Martin wouldn’t have changed anything.

“I actually wasn’t disappointed,” Martin said. “I would say [Krishnan] is much better than me. I was glad I had a game against her. I was happy with the way I played.

If there was one disappointment this season, it wasn’t winning the PAL singles championship. Martin had been through her first two games, losing just one game, as she advanced to the final against Burlingame’s Mulready.

Martin did not make it to the championship game, falling violently ill the same day and giving Mulready the title on a forfeit.

“I was really disgusted. I really got sick. I tested negative for COVID, ”Martin said. “I was throwing up all over the place. “Why this day? Of all the days of the year, why this day (to get sick)? I used to feel sick before this, but I didn’t think it would turn out so bad so quickly. “

While Martin wanted to add to the PAL title she won in freshman, Sorenson thinks she was more disappointed that she couldn’t challenge herself against another talented player.

“For me, she understands why she plays,” Sorenson said. “It’s more than trying to beat this or that any day.”