Home Featured Hornets defeat Demarest, 3-2, to win Group II state tennis championship

Hornets defeat Demarest, 3-2, to win Group II state tennis championship

Hornets defeat Demarest, 3-2, to win Group II state tennis championship
The Holmdel High School girls tennis team defeated Demarest, 3-2, to win its first NJSIAA Group II title since 2018 on Oct. 20 in West Windsor.

WEST WINDSOR — Holmdel High School senior Nithya Thalasila remembers how, as an eighth-grader, she watched the Hornets win the NJSIAA Group II state tennis title in 2018.

That was the Hornets’ last state crown until Oct. 20.

Thalasila, now playing third singles for the Hornets, had an opportunity to help end that drought as Holmdel faced Northern Valley Regional High School-Demarest in the Group II state championship match at Mercer County Park, West Windsor.

The Hornets had won at first doubles and at second doubles and needed one more team point to clinch the state crown.

At third singles, Thalasila won the first set over Kaitlyn Choi, 6-1, which put her one set away from clinching the victory for Holmdel.

With the Hornets on the doorstep of becoming state champions, Thalasila delivered for her team. She rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the second set to win 7-6 (7-3) and clinch Holmdel’s 3-2 victory over the Norsemen and the Group II trophy.

“I had to win this for my team and get that point,” Thalasila said. “I really wanted us to win (the state championship) this year because I knew our team was really good. It feels so amazing.”

From 2014-18, Holmdel was the class of Group II as the Hornets won five straight state championships under coach Chuck Chelednik.

Chelednik stepped down following the 2018 season and Don Russell took the reins in 2019.

In 2019, the Hornets lost to Demarest in the Group II semifinals. In 2021, the Hornets lost to the Norsemen in the Group II championship match.

Those results did not phase Russell’s outlook for 2022 as the coach believed his players could return to the top of the mountain.

“We set a goal during the first week of practice to win Group II. The girls never let go of that (goal). They kept working hard and did it,” Russell said.

A big key to the team’s success throughout the season and in the Group II final was the great play of both doubles teams, according to the coach.

In the Group II state championship match at first doubles, Preeti Parmar and Amelie Baveja defeated Niki Feiner and Haley Chroman, 6-0, 6-1.

At second doubles, Ishani Singh and Alexandra Lapis defeated Dylan Feiner and Tanisha Ghia, 6-2, 6-0.

“It’s really nice to bring that trophy back (to Holmdel). I’m just super-hyped right now,” Baveja said after the match.

The Norsemen won their two team points at first singles and at second singles.

At first singles, Yahli Noy defeated Jordan Lee, 4-6, 6-3, and 10-4 in the tiebreaker.

At second singles, Priyanka Khubani defeated Sonya Pereldik, 6-3, 2-6, and 10-5 in the tiebreaker.

The 2022 Group II title is the ninth state championship in program history for the Hornets (19-1).

The Hornets won every other match in the state sectional tournament and in the state group tournament by a 5-0 score.

The team’s 3-2 victory over Demarest (16-2) was the only match during the season that Holmdel won with fewer than four team points.

Holmdel’s only loss came in the Shore Conference Tournament championship match to Marlboro (20-0), which won the Group IV state title.

“It was a very rewarding season for these young ladies. They work really hard. They have a lot of spirit and a lot of belief in themselves that they can win,” Russell said.

Holmdel will finish the 2022 season with a Shore Conference A Central Division make-up match against Shore Regional High School today, Oct. 21.