By Wayne Witkowski
Jackson Memorial High School’s girls’ tennis team will be well represented in the Ocean County tennis championship semifinals and finals Oct. 15 at Bay Lea Park in Toms River.
It’s the best showing by the Jaguars in the tournament in at least four years. After playing the early rounds, the semifinals and finals matches were rescheduled from an earlier date that was rained out.
Katelyn O’Connor, a sophomore playing in second singles, and Sabrina Chandler, a junior playing in third singles, both are unbeaten in their positions and will play in the semifinals along with Jackson Memorial’s first doubles team of Chloe Griffin, a senior, and Adriana Ugarta, a sophomore. The doubles team is 8-4 coming into this week.
Both singles players had to move up a spot in the lineup when first singles player Biana Rado, a junior who is 5-4, was absent from the match. O’Connor lost her match moving up into first singles to fall to 10-1, as Jackson Memorial suffered its first loss in the Shore Conference A South Division, 4-1, to Southern Regional High School after a 7-0 start in the division.
Jackson Memorial is 9-3 overall — its best start in the division and overall in recent memory going back to the 1990s.
“I think we’re pretty solid top to bottom,” coach Chris Opdyke said. “There are not a lot of weaknesses in our lineup.”
Jackson Memorial’s other losses came by 3-2 scores to Freehold Township High School in its opener and Ranney School. The Jaguars pulled out a 3-2 score early in the season against Toms River High School North that set the tone for the season. Rado got the deciding point with her gritty baseline style.
O’Connor pounds the ball with hard ground strokes, and Chandler mixes up her game on the baseline and the net.
Rounding out the lineup are juniors Jackie Iannacone and Brianna Pazik, who are 6-5 in second doubles.
Junior Kayla Heyward has filled in at third singles when needed.