East Brunswick girls’ tennis team wins state championship in convincing fashion

East Brunswick girls' tennis player Naomi Karki gets ready to return a serve during the GMC championship at Thomas A. Edison Park in Edison on Sept. 25.

The East Brunswick High School girls’ tennis team has won it all.

On Oct. 23 at the Garden State Tennis Center in Edison, East Brunswick won the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions state title with a 4-1 victory over the Moorestown Friends School.

That result gave East Brunswick its first T of C state title since 2008.

And it clearly left the Bears as the best girls’ tennis team in all of New Jersey in 2019.

For the Bears, Naomi Karki took the top singles court, Katie Wong won the third singles court, Anagha Shankar and Christina Steiner clinched the first doubles court and Adriana Macotela and Lexi Roshkovan held the second doubles court.

One day earlier in Edison, East Brunswick won a semifinal match over The Kent Place School, 3-2, as Karki, Wong and Shankar/Steiner earned victories. Two days before that, also in Edison, the Bears rolled past Leonia High School, 5-0.

Earlier in the fall, it also won the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Red Division title, the GMC Tournament championship, the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament crown and the NJSIAA Group 4 tournament trophy.

The Bears also did not lose a match all year, finishing 20-0.

“I’m happy to be a part of this team,” said Phoebe Su, East Brunswick’s second singles player. “We accomplished a lot.”

“It’s good for the town,” added Karki. “It’s good for East Brunswick.”

Karki alluded to the community because she doesn’t normally play tennis for a community. She normally plays for herself in United States Tennis Association tournaments.

This is not selfish. It’s what most elite amateur tennis players do. But as Karki said, the high school tennis experience is fundamentally different, and valuable in its own way.

As it turns out, it’s fun to have teammates and it’s cool to play for the school and town on your swag. This was a new experience for Karki, Wong and Shankar, all freshmen, and they enjoyed it a lot.

A major theme in all the news coverage of the Bears this year was how much they enjoyed each other. That’s real, and it helps.

“You have a whole team that has your back, and the coaches too,” Karki said. “At USTA tournaments you might see your friends, but it’s awkward because you’re there for the same competition.”

“Here you have a group of people that you can talk to and trust, and they’ll help you out before a match if you’re nervous or have any doubts,” she added.

It’s always an open question whether elite USTA players, like Karki, will play all four years for their high school teams. Sometimes other obligations get in the way.

But in the environment Karki described at East Brunswick, it sounds like the USTA players will want to keep playing high school tennis, and that’s a terrifying thought for the other teams in the Garden State.

Karki, Wong and Shankar are only freshmen. Steiner is only a sophomore. Four of East Brunswick’s seven starters can return for two more seasons. A top singles player, a third singles player and a first doubles player can return for three more seasons.

East Brunswick is the state’s best team, and it’s not close. It also may not be close at any point in the near future.

“I think we’re all going to continue playing tennis,” Karki said. “I know I will.”