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MONTGOMERY: Cougars third at SCT tennis

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
With only three of its top seven players back in the lineup this season, the Montgomery High girls tennis team was going to have to come together quickly to win a Somerset County Tournament title.
The Cougars are getting better each week, but weren’t quite ready to win a title at last weekend’s SCT. Montgomery finished third, just four points behind co-champions Ridge and Pingry.
Montgomery did win a flight title when Ally Yan and Amy Yan captured the first doubles championship with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Brooke Murphy and Wesley Streicher of Pingry.
“Last year they lost to the same team in a pretty close match,” Montgomery coach Raheel Saleem said. “They had played Pingry once and they didn’t have a good match. And in the finals they were down 0-5 and after getting them to refocus they won 11 games in a row and took the first set, 7-5. They were up, 4-0, in the second set and then finally lost a game. It was 4-3 and then 5-4 and they were able to pull it out. It was their first time winning a tournament so they were really thrilled.”
Montgomery sophomore Alexandra Mednikova , who is playing high school tennis for the first time, reached the finals at first singles and fell to Cecilia Lesnick of Pingry, 6-2, 0-6, 6-3.
“We are a pretty young team,” Saleem said. “We only have Lily (Chu) back and our first doubles. So we are pretty inexperience when it comes to varsity. We have had some great newcomers. First singles made finals and played a tough match.
“With a young team we looked at it as be competitive, which we have been in all of our matches.”
The Cougars improved to 8-4 with a win over Bridgewater on Wednesday.
“It has been a lot of tennis,” Saleem said. “We’ve been playing four matches a week and we have done a lot weekend tournaments. We’re still hoping we can win or tie for our conference. If the girls play the way they can I think we can tie with Pingry and Ridge. All the pieces have to fall into place.”
Mednikova has been a nice addition at the top of the lineup. She was the No. 1 seed in the SCT.
“She is a sophomore,” Saleem said. “She didn’t play last year. Having someone like her come in has helped our whole team. She played a lot of USTA which is good. She is so used to playing USTA, the biggest thing for her is the speed difference. She has been working on her consistency since it is a little slower than some of the USTA events but the kids are a little more consistent.” 

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