By Warren Rappleyea
Balance in its singles lineup and strong doubles play has helped propel Sayreville War Memorial High School’s girls’ tennis team to a 9-2 mark.
Coach Mike Provenza’s team has qualified for the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament, as the eighth seed will host ninth-seeded Old Bridge High School in a first round matchup Oct. 6. The winner will meet Princeton High School, the top-seed, Oct. 10. The Bombers are also battling for the top spot in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) White Division.
The Bombers’ lone loss in divisional play came Sept. 16 against The Wardlaw-Hartridge School — a match that came down to second singles, which was decided in three sets. The two teams are set to meet again Oct. 16 in Sayreville.
The Blue and Gray has won a pair of 3-2 decisions, edging division rivals North Brunswick Township High School and Edison High School. Its only other loss came against Monroe Township High School.
“We have a lot of new talent this year, and we’re focused on playing hard for every match and every point,” Provenza said. “We have a tough schedule of non-conference matches [against Bishop George Ahr High School, Union High School, Piscataway Township High School and Monroe]. We want to make sure our team is tested. Our goal is to win the division. There are a lot of good teams in the White Division, and we want to be prepared.”
Kathleen Beben holds town the top singles spot for the Bombers. The much-improved junior is 8-3 after turning in a .500 season last fall. She has qualified for the state individual tournament. Good court awareness, solid groundstrokes and a powerful first serve are Beben’s calling cards.
At second singles Arkitha Dindigal is 3-7. Provenza expects the hard-working senior to add more wins in the second half of the season. Dindigal serves as a co-captain, and the coach said her passion for the game has rubbed off on the entire squad.
Sophomore Kate Sudol has established herself at third singles, where she is 8-3. Sudol’s athletic ability, consistent groundstrokes and a tricky slice/drop keep opponents off balance.
Co-captain Jasmine Van Note has paired with freshman Liana Masangkay to run off a 10-1 record at first doubles. Masangkay is a strong baseline player who is able to consistently set up Van Note, who Provenza noted, averages a staggering 50 put-away shots per match. The duo has qualified for the state individual tournament.
Junior Nirali Patel and sophomores Shrusti Sheth and Alecia Richardson have all shared time at second doubles, combining to put together a 7-4 mark. Swara Sheth, a senior, provides additional depth at doubles.
“We’ve had big ones from everyone,” Provenza said. “That’s helped our overall confidence. Our first singles and doubles are both in the state tournament for the first time since 2009. That’s another positive. Right now we’re focused on keeping the momentum going and taking it one match at a time.”