It looked like Princeton High sophomore Christina Rosca could be in over her head as she played Fair Lawn’s Valerie Shklover in the NJSIAA state girls’ singles final last Wednesday.
Rosca felt some butterflies in her stomach as she fell behind 5-1 to senior Shklover in the match at Mercer County Park.
“At the beginning of the match, I was nervous and I didn’t really play the way I am supposed to play,” recalled Rosca.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing at the beginning because of the nervousness.”
But the poised Rosca kept her head and went on to pull out a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
“I think I settled in because I realized my back was against the wall and I really needed to pick it up,” said Rosca. “I started playing better.”
In reflecting on the win, Rosca attributed it to a more mature mentality on the court.
“I think my mental state and attitude made a really big difference,” said Rosca, who had reached the state semis last year in her freshman campaign and rallied from a set down in this year’s semi to make the title match.
“That is something I have improved a lot on. A year ago or a half a year ago I think I would have lost those matches because I would have let my emotions get the better of me. Staying calm really helps. As time progressed, starting last year from the state tournament, I saw sometimes in matches, it is not a difference of strokes or technique but rather it is a difference of how you play the important points and your mental attitude.”
It was important to Rosca to make history for her school. “It definitely means a lot, it is the first time a player from PHS has ever won it so I think this is a huge achievement for me,” said Rosca.
“That is more than I imagined I could have done. I am definitely happy to represent PHS.”
Rosca was happy to have a raucous group of teammates and friends on hand to root her on.
“That is really the first time I have had an entourage of people cheering for me,” said a smiling Rosca.
“It was definitely a fun experience and I was really happy they were there for me.”
Being there for the PHS team and helping it make it to the Group III state final the next day was a fun experience for Rosca.
“I think playing for the team is an aspect I really like about high school tennis because it is something I don’t get to experience that the rest of the year besides that fall,” said Rosca, who won both of her matches at first singles as PHS topped Chatham 3.5 -1.5 in the state semis before falling to Montville 4-1 in the championship match. “I am really eager to help my team do really well.”