Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 40
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
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SINGLE-MINDED: Princeton High girls' tennis junior star Keely Herring shows her focus in smacking a backhand on the way to a second-place finish in second singles last Monday at the Mercer County Tournament. Herring's move to singles this season from doubles has been a spark for PHS, which placed second in the MCT team standings behind three-time champion WW/P-S.

Sparked by Herring’s Move to Singles; PHS Girls’ Tennis Finishes 2nd at MCT

Bill Alden

Keely Herring knew that it wasn’t going to be easy stepping up to the second singles role this fall for the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

“For me it is a lot more stressful to be a singles player; it is you alone on that side of the court,” said junior Herring, who played second doubles last fall.

“It has helped my game a lot. I am definitely more confident. I am mentally tougher because I am over there by myself.”

Herring displayed her new toughness last Monday in the final day of competition at the Mercer County Tournament as she fought her way to the runner-up spot in second singles.

In the semis, Herring outlasted Melissa Traub of WW/P-N in three sets, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5, before falling 6-0, 6-2 to Belinda Ji of WW/P-S in the finals.

Herring was proud of what she achieved at the MCT which was delayed from last week and moved to the Mercer County Park indoor tennis center. “That first match was definitely a marathon; it was great to make it through that,” said Herring. “I was happy to be playing against Belinda; it was exciting to be in the finals.”

Herring’s fine effort helped PHS place second in the MCT team standings behind three-time champion WW/P-S.

As she adjusts to her new role, Herring has learned that it is best to not get too excited on the court.

“It is tough, you have to take it slow and think about it for a little while and not try too hard,” explained Herring. “You can’t try for too much; you need to take it one point at a time.”

Putting in extra time on the court this summer helped Herring make the move to singles.

“I definitely wanted to be at singles; I tried to just hit and play more matches,” said Herring, who also stars for the PHS girls’ ice hockey team. “I played with friends and some former players from the team. In the end, it comes down to the challenge matches.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert likes the way Herring rose to the challenge last Monday in her semifinal battle.

“Keely fought back from a first set loss. She was able to tough out a rough patch in the third set after she got off to a good start. Melissa came back and put Keely against the ropes. Keely fought back and she pulled out a 7-5 third set which was a great statement for her.”

Even though Herring fell short in the title match, Hibbert saw a lot of good things from her junior star.

“She played really well in the final; the score does not show that there were a lot of deuce games,” added Hibbert. “She hit some great shots and it was unfortunate that she did not win the big points. She is a great athlete; she fights hard.”

The PHS’s second doubles team of Alyssa Taylor and Lena Sun put up a good fight as they also placed second in their flight. The pair topped Sydney Kobil and Maddie Neider of Hopewell Valley 6-2, 6-4 in the semis before falling 6-1, 6-1 to Nicole Joseph and Catharine Wong of WW/P-S in the championship match.

“The second doubles didn’t start the season together due to an injury so they have only had a couple of matches together,” said Hibbert. “I think they really played well today. They seem to match really well. It looks like they are having fun out there and playing really well.”

Hibbert had fun seeing her first singles star Sarah Cen produce PHS’s other third place finish.

“It is a good thing; first singles is a tough flight with players like Sammy [Samantha Asch of PDS] and Ammu [WW/P-S’ Ammu Mandalap],” said Hibbert. “Sarah had a very strong match against Ammu this morning; it was closer than the score looked. She had a great second set with her. One mistake here, one mistake there didn’t go her way. She played great against Katie; she started really well and won that set convincingly. It is nice for her to take third.”

The first doubles team of Helena Ord and Maddie Cahill-Sanidas gave PHS a nice effort as they placed fourth.

“They are a young team and a new pairing,” said Hibbert “They have some more big matches left this season so hopefully they will be able to learn a little bit from this morning.”

It didn’t take long this fall for Hibbert to learn that she has a special group on her hands.

“There is a good chemistry among all the players on the team,” asserted Hibbert, whose team is off to a 6-0 start in dual matches and hosts Steinert on October 6, plays at Ewing on October 8, and then hosts WW/P-S on October 12.

“They all get along well; they spend time doing things together. We have won some close matches and they have all been pulling for each other. They are working hard. We have a couple of tough matches coming up with WW/P-N and WW/P-S and states. I am hopeful they can play some good matches in states and go as far as they possibly can.”

In Herring’s view, the team’s unity has been a key to its success. “The team has definitely come together, considering the loss of our two seniors from last year,” said Herring.

“It is nice to see that happen. The counties have been great; I didn’t expect us to do as well as we have been doing. We have players who have been on the team for a while and are on varsity now. We are all happy to be on the team.”

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