Less than a month into the girls’ tennis season, East Brunswick High School is already a champion.
The Bears won the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament title on Sept. 25 at Thomas A. Edison Park in Edison.
East Brunswick’s loaded lineup triumphed over some powerful GMC rivals such as South Brunswick High School and John P. Stevens High School, by earning first place at No. 1 singles, No. 2 singles, No. 3 singles and first doubles.
East Brunswick accumulated 46 points, while J.P. Stevens finished second with 36 points and South Brunswick placed third with 34.
Just after 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, East Brunswick’s top singles player, Naomi Karki, ripped a winner down the line to finish off her 6-4, 6-2 victory over South Brunswick’s top player in the championship.
She turned back to look at her Bears teammates along the fence and pumped her fist. After shaking hands with her opponent, Karki hustled off the court, opened the gate and hugged her teammates.
Her face was locked in a smile for the next half hour as she watched other teammates finish off their own matches. East Brunswick already had the first two singles titles locked up, and it was well on its way to a championship victory.
Karki, a high-level United States Tennis Association player, had won plenty of big matches before her GMC triumph. But this one was different. For the first time in her career, the high school freshman was playing on a team.
“It’s really exciting,” Karki said. “It’s a new experience.”
“A lot of times if I win a tournament, I’m like, ‘Ok, but there are a lot more tournaments,'” she added. “But this one I started to celebrate a little bit. I was proud to see my team there supporting me.”
East Brunswick’s second singles player, senior Phoebe Su, played as the team’s No. 1 singles player last fall, but lost her spot to Karki this year. This meritocratic change made the Bears that much stronger at both spots.
On Sept. 25, Su won the second singles title with a 6-0, 6-0 victory in the championship match. She was the first East Brunswick player done by almost an hour. Perhaps she was a little overqualified as a No. 2.
“We have such a great team this year and I’m happy I was able to accomplish a lot for it,” Su said. “It feels nice.”
At third singles, East Brunswick freshman Katie Wong won the GMC title with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over a J.P. Stevens player. At first doubles, East Brunswick freshman Anagha Shankar and sophomore Christina Steiner won the GMC crown with a 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory over J.P. Stevens’ top team.
From the top of the scoresheet to the bottom of it, East Brunswick was the best team in the GMC. The Bears are also one of the best teams in New Jersey this fall.
They are 7-0 in dual matches with five 5-0 sweeps on their resume. East Brunswick has won one title already, and it may not be the last.
“I hope we do well in state championships,” Karki said. “We have a good team this year and the potential to do well.”
“It’s a nice team experience,” Su added.