For Maria Martinovic, joining the Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team after transferring from the Lawrenceville School has proved to be a good move.
“I love the team, they are awesome, all of them,” said junior Martinovic. “Everyone was so welcoming and nice.”
Last week, Martinovic made a very nice debut at the Mercer County Tournament (MCT), taking second at second singles.
“I was really happy with how I played,” said Martinovic, reflecting on her fine performance, which helped PDS take second in the team standings behind champion WW/P-S and runner-up Princeton High.
“There were a lot of good schools. My second match on Monday was really difficult. I was really happy that I won that one. The semi was good too.”
Martinovic, though, did acknowledge that she wasn’t happy with how she played in losing 6-4, 6-0 to Haley Rich of WW/P-S in the championship match.
“It was a really tight match at first,” said Martinovic, who was teary-eyed after the setback. “I was just really nervous, I felt that way. When you are nervous, I feel like you should be moving your feet more and trying to hit your way out of it. I was kind of pulling back and doing the opposite. I think that is why I lost.”
The loss was a good learning experience for Martinovic. “Hopefully next year, I will know how to deal with that,” said Martinovic, who topped Arial Bosworth of WW/P-N 6-4, 6-0 in the semis to reach the title match.
“In my other matches, I wasn’t as nervous so it was easier for me to deal with when it was close. In this one, I really felt it.”
PDS head coach Ed Tseng felt good about how his team performed collectively at the MCT. “We are obviously pleased to have everyone through to today,” said Tseng, whose players advanced to the semis in all five flights of the tourney.
“There are a lot of good teams, a lot of the matches could have gone either way. I am pleased with the way that everyone has played.”
Tseng has been pleased to welcome Martinovic to the squad. “She is very nice player, a smart player,” said Tseng.
“She is a great team player as well. We are very happy and fortunate to have her.”
PDS got some nice play from its other singles players at the MCT as sophomore Renee Karchere-Sun took third at first singles while junior Emily Dyckman placed fourth at third singles.
“Renee is stepping up her game and we are happy to have her at No. 1,” said Tseng. “Emily fought hard. I am very pleased with the results. She had a tough final match but she played great, she never gave up. That’s the main thing I look for.”
The Panthers got what they were looking for in doubles as the first pair of Charlotte Zaininger and Devika Kumar placed third while the second doubles team of Hope Boozan and Touria Salvati took fourth.
“Our first doubles got third place so we are happy about that,” said Tseng. “They played great; they played smart. Our second doubles played well together.”
In Tseng’s view, the experience of playing in the MCT should help his team down the road. “It is always nice to play more matches to get our timing and rhythm and get ready to finish the rest of the season strong,” said Tseng, who guided the Panthers to the state Prep B championship last fall.
“The girls were nervous coming in which is totally normal. But once they saw that we had a chance, they played well. It is two of the best days of the season. It is a great atmosphere; it is fun. It is good for team bonding and it is good tennis.”
Martinovic, for her part, believes that PDS has the chance to accomplish some great things over the rest of the fall.
“I think we can do really well; I think we have a really deep team this year,” said Martinovic.
“We all hit with each other so sometimes our singles will hit against our doubles players so they challenge each other and that’s good.”