In the view of Stuart Country Day School tennis coach Katherine Stoltenberg, her team’s win over Pennington last week marked the harbinger of things to come.
“We played well, it was great to win,” said second-year head coach Stoltenberg reflecting on the Tartans’ 4-1 victory last Wednesday. “It was the first win for the girls; it was a good starting point.”
Building on that triumph, Stuart topped George School (Pa.) 3-2 last Thursday and then edged Country Day School of the Sacred Heart 3-2 on Saturday. “We are on a pretty good roll,” said Stoltenberg, whose team ended the week with a 3-1 record.
Junior co-captain Maya Kuang has been on a roll this year as she has taken over the first singles spot.
“Maya played first doubles last year so she has made a big jump this year,” said Stoltenberg. “She has learned more about singles strategy. It is a lot different than doubles; you don’t have a partner to bounce ideas off or rely on. She doesn’t come to the net as much. Her groundstrokes are better and she has a nice slice. Her serve has improved a lot.”
At second singles, Julia Rourke has proven to be one of Stuart’s most reliable performers.
“Julia is our other junior and co-captain,” said Stoltenberg. “This is her third year at second singles so she has great experience at that spot.”
Freshman Caitlyn Delaney is showing great potential at third singles. “Caitlyn did real well in the preseason to get that spot,” said Stoltenberg.
“She has three wins in a row. She is a fighter; she will play long games to win a set.”
It is a family affair at doubles for the Tartans as the four McGowen sisters, sophomore triplets Pam, Natalie, and Juliet, together with freshman Ally comprise the two pairs.
“They are a great group of girls; they help the whole team’s morale because they get along so well,” said Stoltenberg.
“Of course, they know each other really well and they are getting to know each other on the court better.”
In sorting out the doubles teams, the sisters had to work through some sibling rivalry.
“It was the first time they had to challenge each other,” noted Stoltenberg, who has Pam and Natalie at first doubles with Juliet and Ally at second doubles.
“They have taken the opportunity well; the pairs are working out well. It was the way the ladder worked out; it came down to how they did in the challenge matches. The first pair, Pam and Natalie, have a good strong game. They are both good baseline players but they know when to come to the net. Juliet and Ally like to come to the net a lot, that is good to see in doubles.”
Stoltenberg is confident she will see some good things from her players next week when they compete in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) at Mercer County Park starting on September 23.
“We will play some big public schools that we don’t usually get to see,” said Stoltenberg, whose team will play at the Ranney School on September 20 and host Hun on September 21 before starting action in the MCT.
“My girls are always ready to fight. They also have a good time and support each other. They have fun.”
Based on the team’s promising start, it looks like the Tartans are going to have a lot of fun this fall.
“We don’t have any seniors and we have only two juniors and only one of them went back to her old spot,” said Stoltenberg.
“We have a lot of players at new positions. We will get experience and exposure this season. All of them are returning, it looks good for us further down the road. It is a good mix of girls. They really support each other. They stay and cheer for each other.”