Opportunity knocks for Anant Mundra of San Ramon Valley High and Mayson Xue of Dougherty Valley at the North Coast Section Division I singles tennis tournament, which will begin Friday at Santa Rosa High.
The two-day event appears wide open with the absences of two-time defending champion Andrew Gu of Albany, who did not play varsity tennis this year, and San Ramon Valley star Alex Keyser, one of the country's top junior players.
"Anant has a very good chance based on who we've seen in the draw," San Ramon Valley coach Frank Haswell said of the East Bay Athletic League champ.
Keyser, who advanced to the NCS semifinals in 2013, played only six league matches this year, one shy of the minimum requirement needed to compete in the NCS singles tournament. He will represent the Wolves in the NCS Division I team tournament, beginning Tuesday.
The NCS Division II tournament will be at Cardinal Newman on Friday and Saturday.
All four Division I singles semifinalists from 2013 are not returning. Miguel Diaz of Castro Valley and Luke Bohuslav of Miramonte have moved on to college, Diaz at the University of the Pacific and Bohuslav at Loyola Marymount.
It has been a memorable year for San Ramon Valley, which earned its first EBAL team title in 12 years, finally unseating rival Monte Vista. The only EBAL team with its top six singles players returning, the Wolves had a decided advantage in experience.
Keyser and Mundra were the Wolves' top players, but captains Austin Miller and Keenan Lee have "driven the team all year at practices and in matches," Haswell said. "They've kind of been the spark plug on the team."
The Wolves beat Monte Vista 6-3 on April 29 in EBAL action to end the Mustangs' prolonged run of league dominance.
"My brother (Brody) graduated two years ago, and he never got to beat Monte Vista," Lee said. "It just feels really good that we got to win this year, especially being my senior year."
Keyser missed time this season when he placed third in the boys 16s in the Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, one of the country's top junior events. He also represented Northern California at a national junior tournament in Alabama.
In the NCS Division I doubles tourney, Acalanes senior standout Dan Cardiff and his brother Ryan, a freshman, along with the EBAL's top team of Foothill's Alex Guerdat and Andy Francis, figure to be solid contenders. Even with Gu's absence in singles, Albany's SJ Kim earned an automatic NCS berth by winning the Tri County Athletic League singles title on Wednesday.
Track and field
San Leandro girls track star Gabriella Cantrell's outdoor season started late because of a torn left hamstring suffered at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in mid-March.
The Sacramento Meet of Champions on Saturday was only her second outdoor meet of the season, but she left the American River College track with a victory in the 200 meters and a second-place finish in the 100.
Both races were in the girls invitational session in very windy conditions. Her times were 25.05 seconds in the 200 (against a 4.1 meters per second headwind) and 12.16 in the 100 (against a 3.3 mps headwind).
"It was really windy, so it was kind of hard to see where I really was (physically)," said Cantrell, who placed third in both the 100 and 200 at the state championship finals last year. "My 200 meter race, it felt good. But my 100 race was not as good in my opinion."
Cantrell, who signed with USC in February, opened her outdoor season at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 19. She won the girls 100 seeded race in a wind-aided 11.94.
Cantrell also ran on the Pirates' 400 and 800 relay teams in that meet, and San Leandro's 400 relay team Saturday.
"I'm 100 percent sure that my 100-meter will get where it should be by the time it needs to get there, and my 200 too," said Cantrell, who wasn't able to sprint in practice until April 14. She said she is 90 percent healthy and "getting to 95."
-- Phil Jensen