Vol. LXI, No. 40
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
NET GAIN: Princeton High sophomore doubles star Allegra Bianchini blocks the ball at the net last week as she and Kasey Reisman won the first doubles title at the Mercer County Tournament. Despite the title by the Bianchini-Reisman pair, PHS fell just short in the team standings placing second to seven-time champion Hun.
Princeton High tennis star Allegra Bianchini was bitterly disappointed when she walked off the court last year after her final match at the Mercer County Tournament (MCT).
Bianchini and partner Liz Haughton fell to Stuarts Sarah Horton and Alex Abad 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in the title match at second doubles, squandering some key chances in a nervewracking third set.
Last week, Bianchini was determined not to relive that feeling as she and Kasey Reisman faced Allison Kempf and Larissa Lee Lum in the MCT finals in first doubles.
Bianchini and Reisman struggled in the early going as the first set went to a tiebreaker. The PHS pair pulled out the tie breaker by a 7-3 margin and never looked back as they won the second set 6-2 to earn the title.
As Bianchini celebrated the title with Reisman, her thoughts drifted back to last fall.
Last year, I came so close, recalled the sophomore. It hurt to have that snatched away from us. I thought thats not happening again if I get to the finals, we are winning.
Still, at the instant of victory, it took a moment for things to sink in.
It was amazing, said Binachini. I hit that last volley and we were like did that just happen? We were so happy.
Bianchini was a little less happy about the team standings as PHS placed second with 27 points, falling short of derailing Hun (32 points) as the Raiders won their seventh straight MCT title.
While Bianchini was disappointed that PHS couldnt overtake Hun, she felt that the team pushed itself to the limit.
Hun is always intimidating coming in here, said Bianchini. This year we came in thinking that we had a chance. Were pulling together as a team, were undefeated. I think we came in here seeing how far we could go. The main goal was to see how far we could go and to do our best.
Bianchini and Reisman have certainly pulled together as they have rolled through the competition this fall.
Our games are pretty similar and we understand each others game, explained Bianchini. We have really good communication; we talk to each other a lot on the court. We are also friends off the court and in school, so that helps.
The Little Tigers collectively have benefitted from a friendly atmosphere around the team.
I feel there is so much chemistry on this team, asserted Bianchini. In practices and stuff, we just have much fun together. We know that we are always there to support each other.
The team certainly has the support of head coach Sarah Heyman. Im proud of how all of them played, said Heyman.
No one gave up; everyone fought for everything. Its disappointing, it looked like we had a chance going into the final round this year. We just didnt do it this year.
The other Little Tigers who made it to the second day of the competition included first singles player Priya Joshi, who took third, Alex Willig, the second place finisher at second singles, and the second doubles pair of Jesse Delaney and Pooja Joshi, the runners-up in their flight.
Heyman had special words of praise for her champion first doubles team of Bianchini and Reisman.
They have been really impressive, they have been tearing through matches, said Heyman, whose team has gotten off to a 6-0 start in dual match play.
They had a tough final and they played really well. They were able to pick it up when it mattered. Its really nice for Kasey as a senior and for Allegra moving up in the lineup. I thought they could be a good team together and they have proven that they really are.
Heyman is looking for her team to prove how good it can be as it heads into state tournament play
I hope we continue like this the rest of the season, said Heyman, whose team made it to the sectional final last year and is seeded first in this years Central Jersey Group III competition.
We are playing well, Id like to see us do well in the states. It depends on the draw and lots of different things but Im hoping they can continue their level of play and we can put up some big things this year.
Bianchini, for her part, thinks that PHS can do some big things over the rest of the season.
I definitely think we are a team that people are wary of playing against, said Bianchini.
People have told me that when they see us as a team, that we dont look like individual tennis players. They say we look like a team that works together and thats always intimidating.
Bianchini and Reisman certainly showed an intimidating game last week as they rolled to their MCT title.
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