Vol. LXI, No. 18
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
Last spring, David Holland fought through a bad case of cramps in gutting his way to the first singles title at the Mercer County Tournament.
This past Wednesday at Mercer County Park, the Princeton Day school junior faced a different set of physical challenges as he looked to repeat his title.
Tweaking a hip muscle during his semifinal win over Leland Richardson of PDS and then getting sick to his stomach between matches, Holland knew that his game would have to be at its sharpest in order to beat Hun's Lance Goulbourne in the final. In between stretching his calves and taking bathroom breaks, Holland used his all-around game and match toughness to overcome Goulbourne, 6-2, 6-4.
Holland's win helped PDS to a sweep of the singles flights at the MCT as freshman Neil Karandikar took the title at second singles and senior Bo Marshall prevailed at third singles.
The Panthers' dominance at singles wasn't quite enough to win the team title as PDS (26 points) finished second behind WW/P-S (33 points).
In assessing his win, Holland said his service game helped him survive Goulbourne's challenge. "I had a little upset stomach between matches and I got tired in the second set against Lance," said Holland.
"I held serve pretty easy so that really helped. I knew how to break him. I'm really happy to win; it's a strong county and it's nice to come out on top."
Holland enjoyed seeing his singles mates come out on top as well. "I think that really makes a statement," asserted Holland, who hasn't lost a match in high school competition since he was a freshman.
"We didn't win; we don't have the deepest team. It does show that we can beat almost any team in a dual match since we can pull out three singles wins."
PDS head coach Rome Campbell knew that Holland would have to dig deep to earn his title. "We were concerned about him playing four sets in one day," said Campbell.
"He got himself back together although he did look a little gimpy at the end. His service game was very strong today; he kept the ball deep on Lance. His return of serve neutralized Lance's strength as a server. We were happy that he pulled it out."
Campbell may have been happiest about Marshall's triumph. "This is the farthest that Bo has advanced in four years," said Campbell of his senior who topped Stephen Fernandez of WW/P-S 6-2, 7-6 (10-8) in the championship match.
"He finally got through; in the other three years he'd been knocked out in the first round. It was an incredible run for him; I believe all his matches were straight-set wins. It was a very strong performance; he raised the level of his game."
Marshall also displayed his character as he rallied in the second set to top Fernandez. "In the last match, he was down 3-0 and 4-1 in the second set," recalled Campbell. "He had two match points in the tie breaker and he finally won on the third point. He's a very strong player and he's a very good captain for our team."
The second singles champion, Karandikar, has been a very good addition to the Panthers. "The strongest point of Neil's game is his defensive shotmaking," maintained Campbell. "He's a dedicated player. He's the last one off the court at practice; he usually stays and hits longer."
Campbell is going to tinker with his doubles teams as he looks to get the most out of his team down the stretch.
"We're looking at changing our lineup, we are going to hook up Patrick Murphy and Alvin Song at first doubles," said Campbell, whose team topped WW/P-N 4-1 last Monday to improve to 7-0 in dual matches. "We're going to see if we can shake that up and look for another combination at second doubles."
In any event, Campbell believes his team is in good shape to win its third straight state Prep B crown. "I think we're on track for that goal," said Campbell, whose team hosts Germantown Academy on May 3, plays at Ranney on May 4, and then hosts Rutgers Prep on May 8.
"We achieved a second goal today which was finishing as high in the team standings here as we could. We're a talented team with David at the top of the lineup."
Holland, for his part, believes the Panthers will respond well to the challenges ahead. "At this point, the focus is to make it stronger for the rest of our season," added Holland.
"We have a lot of tough matches coming up and then the Prep B. I think it's fun; we're playing a lot of Prep A teams and some top-10 teams in the state."
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