By Matthew Rocco
The Holmdel High School girls’ tennis team is proving to be a dangerous postseason contender again. After winning the Shore Conference Tournament, the Hornets took the NJSIAA Group II title and advanced to the Tournament of Champions for the third straight season.
The Hornets, winners of the Central Jersey, Group II bracket, didn’t drop a single match against West Essex High School and Haddonfield High School on their way to the group championship.
Brianna Gibbs at first singles, Alexandra Wojciak at second singles and Rita Vought at third singles won their respective matches in the finals against Haddonfield. Holmdel’s doubles sweep was orchestrated by Emily Kong and Vicky Vought at first doubles and Natalie Cipriano and Jaimee Ratkoski at second doubles.
Second-seeded Holmdel earned a bye in the first round of the Tournament of Champions. In the semifinals Oct. 25, the Hornets played the winner of a matchup between Newark Academy and New Providence High School. The winner-take-all final was set for Oct. 26. The other side of the bracket includes Millburn High School — the top seed. All matches are played at the Garden State Tennis Center in Edison.
The Hornets were certainly a favorite to win Group II this season, but they are looking for more after falling short of the overall state championship the last two tries. Both times, Holmdel lost to Millburn.
“We just have to play with a little more confidence. We have to play fearless and not be afraid to hit your shots,” head coach Chuck Chelednik said. “We’re right there with Millburn or any of these teams.”
Holmdel’s Kong and Vought faced Millburn in the semifinals of the state doubles tournament, losing 6-4, 6-2. The entire Hornets squad knows the challenges they will face if they book a ticket to a championship match against their postseason rival.
“I believe they can win, but they have to believe it, too,” Chelednik said.
Holmdel is also competing in the Monmouth County Tournament, which was postponed earlier this month due to inclement weather. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 29.
At the state singles tournament, Gibbs is representing Holmdel in first singles competition.