Chris Seitz ended his final appearance at the Mercer County Tournament with a victory.
But for the Hun School boys’ tennis senior star, the triumph wasn’t the one he wanted as it came in the third-place match at first singles rather than in a championship showdown.
After taking second at first singles in his first three appearances at the MCT, Seitz was primed to end his county run in a blaze of glory with a crown.
Seeded No. 2, Seitz cruised through the opening rounds of the competition on April 16 with two straight-set victories.
In the semifinal last Wednesday, Seitz came up on the short end of a straight-set decision, falling 7-6, 7-6 to Robbinsville’s Ramy Bekhiet, who went on to win the title.
Seitz acknowledged that he had to overcome disappointment as he took the court for the subsequent third-place match against Pennington’s Jerry Jiang.
“It is definitely hard to go out an hour later after that match,” said Seitz. “It was really tough.”
Displaying his mental toughness, Seitz gutted out a 6-2, 6-3 win over Jiang.
“I definitely had to fight through things in the opening set but it was a good match,” said Seitz.
“I think the ball Jerry was giving me was just a lot more friendly than the semis match. I could take it higher and control the points more.”
While Seitz would have liked a higher finish in his county finale, he leaves with some indelible memories of the competition.
“It is still good to do so well at this tournament,” said Seitz, reflecting on his third-place finish.
“I will always remember freshman year, just coming in and taking second. It was so good; the four years were amazing.”
Seitz’s game has shown good improvement over the last four years. “I have definitely gotten a lot stronger,” said Seitz. “I am able to control the points and play defense if I have to.”
Next year, Seitz will test his strength at the college level as he heads to Villanova University where he will compete for the school’s men’s tennis program.
“I really like their business program and the fact that I could play Division I tennis too,” said Seitz, in reflecting on his college decision.
Hun head coach Todd Loffredo liked the way that his senior star took care of business in the third place match.
“I think he was upset because he thinks he let the team down,” said Loffredo, referring to Seitz’s semifinal loss.
“We were happy to see him come out here and play against Jerry, who had a really good match against Kenny Zheng [in the quarterfinals] and then played a really close first set against Michael Song. Chris was ready to play here; he wanted third place.”
Over his Hun career, Seitz showed he could play with the best in the county.
“I remember his first year when he almost beat out [Neil] Karandikar [of Princeton Day School],” said Loffredo.
“I am proud of him. We are both a little disappointed but he did his best and that’s all you can ask.”
In Loffredo’s view, he got all he could ask from his players collectively as the Raiders tied for seventh place in the team standings at the 18-school competition.
“I feel like at the MCT we always hit our stride,” said Loffredo. “The kids have played with each other enough where they are finally used to playing with each other. It is a lot of tennis and they come together as a team and I really like how they support each other. All of them played really well.”
With Hun having produced a 4-2 start in dual match play, Loffredo sees some good tennis ahead for the squad.
“We are going to do our best; we are just looking forward to finishing the season strong,” added Loffredo, whose team has home matches against Rutgers Prep on April 26 and Lawrenceville School on May 1. “Hopefully we can keep a winning record going and keep spirits high.”
Seitz, for his part, believes Hun can produce a spirited finish. “We are doing really well right now,” asserted Seitz.
“We have a lot of confidence going into dual matches and we just have to stay positive. The Prep A will be a good opportunity to finish the season strong.”