May 29, 2019

With Harris, Fruchter Winning 2nd Doubles, PDS Boys’ Tennis Takes 3rd at Prep B Tourney

AD COURT: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Neel Adusimilli hits a forehand in a match this spring. Last week, freshman singles player Adusimilli and PDS wrapped up their season by competing in the state Prep B tournament. The Panthers finished third in the team standings at the tourney. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Going with a youth movement by necessity and dealing with a number of injuries, the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team experienced an up-and-down spring.

But with everyone up to speed for the state Prep B tournament, the Panthers ended the season on a high note by taking third at the competition held last week at Wardlaw Hartridge.

“We were just happy to get there with the full roster,” said PDS head coach Jen Johnson, reflecting on the tourney which was won by Pennington (12 points) with Rutgers Prep (eight points) taking second and the Panthers getting seven points in coming in third.

“I am really pleased that, after losing our No. 1 and our No. 2 singles players from last year, we have a freshman at No. 1 [Neel Adusimilli], a freshman at No. 2 [Andrew Marshall], and a sophomore [Aaron Phogat] at No. 3 and we are still able to finish third.”

The most pleasing aspect of the tourney for PDS was the play of the second doubles team of seniors Jake Harris and Shai Fruchter, who won their flight even though they were seeded seventh in the competition.

“It was a great way to end,” said Johnson, whose second doubles duo rallied to pull out a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Koran Lahiri and Neel Patel of Rutgers Prep in the final.

“They both played varsity tennis their freshman year and then they didn’t play for the next two years. They came out this year and they really worked hard to get their game back and shake the rust off. They worked so well together, they communicated really well.”

In Johnson’s view, the pair’s sense of urgency in their finale helped them come through in the third set.

“The talent was absolutely equal,” said Johnson. “I think the two seniors just really pulled it together. They were very emotional and they really wanted it.”

At first doubles, sophomore Aaron Chu and junior Eric Leung showed how much they wanted it, rallying to force a third set in the finals but coming up short as Timmy Coe and Peyton Miller of Pennington prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

“They played well,” said Johnson of Chu and Leung. “You go into it and it is that third set and Pennington was able to really dig deep and pull it out. But our guys played with just such heart.”

Andrew Marshall played well in the second singles title match but couldn’t overcome Pennington’s Jake Song, who won 6-4, 6-3.

“They had some amazing points out there,” said Johnson. “Every game was going to deuce back and forth, multiple times. It was just a matter of who was going to get broken.”

Johnson was proud of how the Panthers got better and better over the course of the spring.

“Everybody just rallied around each other,” said Johnson.

“When we had days that we weren’t playing matches, we were drilling hard and working on what we needed to improve. They really pulled together as a team.”

With Harris and Fruchter as the only seniors in the lineup this spring, the youthful squad has a bright future.

“We are only losing our No. 2 doubles and we have some good prospects coming in next year,” said Johnson.

“We still have a very young team. We will have only one senior coming back next year.”

Johnson, though, won’t be able to reap the benefits as she is moving to Florida this summer.

“It is my last match at PDS; it is bittersweet,” said Johnson. “I am really passionate about tennis. I am passionate about PDS and the people there are just amazing. It was really sad when I had to tell the boys.”