PRINCETON: Gerdes a double winner at Cryan tennis

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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Elise Gerdes enjoyed a successful tennis career at Princeton High School.
Gerdes, who was graduated in June from Princeton High was part of a Mercer County Tournament championship team with the Little Tigers as a sophomore.
She spent her last two years in the program as a singles player, helping Princeton complete two more successful seasons.
Since the end of her high school career, Gerdes has spent time doing drills and working as an instructor for younger players at the Nassau Tennis Club in Skillman.
“I don’t compete very much during the school year,” said Gerdes, who will attend Rutgers University. “I focus on academics, so tournaments never work out. I drill a lot and I worked at the Nassau Tennis Club, so I stay on the court that way.”
Gerdes made a return to competitive tennis earlier this month in the 52nd annual James E. Cryan Memorial Tournament, which was held at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.
Gerdes came away from the tournament with a pair of championships.
She captured the Women’s A Singles title and partnered with John Russo, her coach at Nassau, to win the Mixed A Doubles crown.
“For the singles, I was not sure what to expect,” said Gerdes, who was unseeded and defeated third-seeded Jennifer Tan in the final, 6-1, 6-2. “I looked at the draw and didn’t know anyone on the list. I just figured I was going to go in and do the best I could. I know some of my friends competed in men’s doubles last year and did well, so I thought I might be well.
“In mixed doubles I thought we had a better chance, I knew my partner and I worked well from both being at Nassau. He knows my strengths and plans things out so that it works better for me.”
Gerdes and Russo, who were also unseeded, won the mixed doubles title with a split set victory over the second-seeded team of Sally Kuppek and Vivek Sahota. The duo had topped the No. 1 seeded team of Indah Budiman and Matthew Hartman in the semifinals.
“I have been playing a lot because I work at the Nassau Tennis Summer Camp,” Gerdes said. “So in addition to playing with the tournament training high school kids, I also have private lessons. I am going to Rutgers, so I probably can’t play Division 1. I am hoping there may be a club team and maybe some leagues in the area that I can still play. And I am close, so I can still play and drill at Nassau.”
Gerdes and Russo represented Nassau well in the tournament, as did William Camper and Blake Iles, who captured the Men’s A Doubles title with a split set triumph over Anuj Anand.
In other divisions in the tournament, top-seeded Christopher Racz captured the Men’s Open Singles, while former Montgomery High player Rachel Pierson won the Women’s Open Singles. Yuexing Hu  claimed the Men’s A Singles title, while Jigar Shah won the Men’s B Singles and Dee Belsky won the Women’s B Singles.
In other doubles play, Martin Alund and Christopher Marquis won the Men’s Open Doubles, while Pierson and Brianna Shvets won the Women’s Open Doubles. Shvets paired with Princeton High graduate Ilia Shatashvili to win the Mixed Open Doubles title. Nathan Silverman and Alex Terr won the Men’s B doubles, while Gwen Guidice and Indah Budiman were the champions in the Women’s A Doubles. Amy Fillipone and Elaine Fox won the Women’s B Doubles. Dee Belsky and Jigar Shah won the Mixed B Doubles.
“This was my first time playing in the tournament and it was a lot of fun,” Gerdes said. “I know a lot of friends who played last year. I had a scheduling conflict so I couldn’t make it. I came along and watched some of the matches and realized it was such a fun tournament. Everyone is so nice and I wanted to play this year.”
Gerdes has spent plenty of time on the tennis courts this summer due to her job at Nassau. But she hadn’t been tested much in match play, which made her performance at the Cryan tournament all the more impressive.
“I am on the court five days a week from 9 until 3,” Gerdes said. “It is a fun job. I mostly work with the younger kids. I really enjoy working with the young kids who are just learning to play. I got a lot of support during the tournament from the people at the club. The older kids that were there would ask me every morning how I did in my match and when I told them I won they got very excited.
“I  think that helped me that the people at the club were there to back me up.”
Gerdes hopes to stay active in tennis any way she can as she heads off to college.
“I did Junior Team Tennis as a junior in high school and we won sectionals and districts and made it to nationals, so I hope to find something like that as I get older,” she said. “It is more of a laid back environment. It is still competitive, but not much as some other tournaments.
“Tennis is something I never want to give up. I started seriously at the age of 12, so for almost seven years I have been playing and I love the sport. I am looking forward to coming back to this tournament and playing again next year.”

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