PRINCETON: Panthers double their success at MCT tennis


Share post:

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
While Hightstown cruised to a second straight team championship at the Mercer County Girls’ Tennis Tournament, the doubles players from Princeton Day School laid claim to being the best in the county at their positions.
Princeton Day captured the flight championships at both first and second doubles on Wednesday at Mercer County Park, in West Windsor, which helped the Panthers  pace second in the team standings.
Hightstown claimed the team title with 27.5 points, while PDS finished second with 19 points. West Windsor-Plainsboro South finished third with 17 points, followed by the Hun School (16 points), Princeton (15.5 points) and Hopewell (15 points) to round out the top six. Stuart Country Day School finished 15th.
“As everyone knows, this is a tough county to do some damage,” said PDS coach Ed Tseng, whose team finished tied for eighth last year. “So winning two of the flights is special. I am happy for the girls, the school and the parents. We’re really like a big family this year. Even regardless of winning those two I think we put in our best effort and supported each other.”
The PDS duo of Arya Jha and Tarika Kumar won the title at first doubles by pulling out a pair of three-set victories on Wednesday. The No. 4 seeds topped the No. 2 seeded team from WW-P South in the semifinals before posting a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2  triumph over Princeton’s third-seeded team of Denise Yang and Caroline Tang in the final.
Jha and Kumar made a habit of pulling our long matches in the tournament, spending over five hours on the court on Wednesday.
“Even our first match of the day on Monday, we were down 1-5 in the first set and we came back and managed to win that set,” Kumar said. “The theme of this tournament has been how to overcome obstacles and get over the negativity that might enter your mind, especially when you are down.
“What’s great about working with Arya is we are both seniors and we actually played MCTs together our freshman year. There is this open communication with us and I think we understand each other well. That helped a lot getting over those obstacles.”
Kumar filled in and played with Jha as a freshman when her partner went down with an injury. They are back together this year after Jha spent last year as a singles player.
“We’re really good friends, so it is not like we were saying we didn’t want to play with this person,” Jha said. “It was easy and nice to play with each other. We don’t lie to each other. We tell each other face to face that you are doing this wrong, let’s work on that. Even during a match like this we take each other’s advice as well which is beneficial.”
Being seniors, capping their MCT careers with a doubles title seemed fitting.
“I don’t know about Tarika, but I know myself I wasn’t very keen on winning this year,” Jha said. “I felt like it was our last year so just have fun and have a good time. But we just make such a good team and we really balance each other. So I am very glad to have won this year as seniors.”
On a day where they needed the support of each other, the two played like seasoned veterans. In the final they dropped the first set before storming back for the win.
“We feel like we balance each other our well,” said Kumar, who is playing first doubles for the third straight season. “We each have our strengths and weaknesses. We know when I am at net and she is at baseline we can be more risky because I feel more solid at net and she feels more solid at baseline. We know how we are compatible and how we fit together, which is really nice.
“What is really great about working with her is we have this open dialogue and we are very honest. So if we are down or someone is messing up we’ll just talk to each other. It is very honest.”
In addition to the first doubles championship, the Panthers also came away with the second doubles title when Emma Dries and Giuloa Gerschel, the No. 3 seeds, defeated the second-seeded Hightstown duo of Sreya Kilambi and Morgan Koppel in the final, 7-5, 7-5.
“It was nice,” Tseng said. “They deserved it. They have been playing really well and there were some tight matches so it was good to pull them out.”
A year ago, Hun finished tied for eighth with PDS and didn’t have a player reach the semifinals. This year the Raiders jumped to fourth place in the tournament, placing a pair of singles players in the semifinals. Freshman Sophia Lin reached the semis at first singles, while junior Ishana Desai advanced to the semifinals at third singles.
“What is really impressive is there were no expectations coming into the season because we really didn’t know who was coming back and who was going to be coming up,” Hun coach Stuart Woody said. “When you lose your top two, and they have been our top two since before I came, you just don’t know.
“You just have to make sure you establish the culture in the offseason so when they come in they are ready to play. We boarded this year during preseason and it was a really good experience. I thought there was much better bonding and we spend more time on the court than we did last year.”
Princeton finished second at first doubles, while also claiming third at second doubles as Sora Sato and Adriana Todorov bounced back to win their third-place match after falling to Dries and Gershcel of PDS in the semifinals.
“Overall, I am really pleased with what the doubles teams did, especially Caroline and Denise coming together as a team after playing one match before the county tournament,” Princeton coach Sarah Hibbert said. “And then they had a challenge match with second doubles where they pulled out an 11-9 third set. To come out here and make it to the final was fantastic. And second doubles came in third which was a good showing.”
Due to some changes in the lineup, Tan and Wang had just come together as a team before the MCT. They rose to the occasion and nearly came away with a county title.
“I thought this was one of the most competitive overall tournaments we have had in a long time,” said Hibbert, whose team had finished tied for second at last year’s tournament. “You learn as much from your losses as you do from your wins. Going forward we have a couple of tough ones coming up and hopefully we can use what we learned today to help us down the road.”

Stay Connected


Current Issue

Latest News

Related articles

‘Playing for Princeton has been everything for me’

The Princeton Tigers 2023-24 women's basketball season officially came to end when the team lost in the first...

‘Really proud of this group’

Princeton women's basketball is preparing for another first round March Madness matchup this time against the No. 8...

Princeton Tigers basketball claim Ivy League season titles

Princeton Tigers men's and women's basketball teams are both heading to New York as top seeds in Ivy...

Best Tennessee Sports Betting Sites – Top TN Online Sportsbooks for 2024

You could be betting on the Memphis Grizzlies or rooting for other sports teams, the best Tennessee sports...