May 8, 2019

Doing His Best to Contribute to PHS Boys’ Tennis, Senior Hwang Wins 1st Singles Backdraw at MCT

By Bill Alden

Simon Hwang has bounced around the Princeton High boys’ tennis lineup over the last few years.

As a sophomore in 2017, Hwang played at second singles behind Kevin Yang with stars Noah Lilienthal and Jerry Gu taking a hiatus from the team.

Last spring, Hwang competed at first doubles with Lilienthal and Gu returning to play the top two singles spots and Yang moving to third.

This year, Hwang has taken over the first singles spot with Lilienthal and Yang having graduated and Gu getting sidelined by injury.

“With Noah and Kevin gone, it has been a lot more difficult for us this season,” said Hwang.

“There are a lot of great No. 1 singles players in our area. I used to play very competitively when I was younger, but I stopped because of other commitments, especially music. Whenever I come out to the court now, especially playing kids who are top 50, top 100 in the nation, it is almost an honor.”

Last week, Hwang displayed his competitive fire at the Mercer County Tournament, falling in the first round and rebounding to win the consolation final, topping Neel Adusumilli of Princeton Day School 6-3, 3-2 in the backdraw final.

“I played well in this match, my serves were going in really well,” said Hwang in assessing his performance against Adusumilli.

“I was able to translate what I wanted to do in my head to actually execute it well. Neel was playing great but he had some ups and downs and I was able to take advantage of that.”

Although Hwang would have preferred to advance farther in the main draw, he was happy to add to the PHS score, as it finished sixth of 17 schools in the team standings of the event won by WW/P-South.

“It isn’t the highest competition, but it is what it is,” said Hwang. “High school tennis is a team sport after all and I am getting points for the team. I love to do anything that I could to help the team.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert credited Hwang for giving his all to help the team.

“Watching this tennis out here, there are a lot of really good first singles players in the county so playing first singles is a hard position to be in,” said Hibbert.

“He made the best out of an unfortunate position. He won the back draw final. It is a nice place to get as many points as he could and be helping out with the team.”

Looking forward to the upcoming state tournament, Hwang is aiming to provide leadership for his younger teammates.

“Our main priority in states is trying to be as competitive as we can,” said Hwang.

“We have a few seniors, there are three of us, so hopefully we will be able to lead and help the team carry through their matches and not feel too pressured during big moments.”