November 27, 2019

PDS Girls Tennis Ended Fall on High Note, Winning Two Flights at Prep B Tournament

By Bill Alden

Will Asch knew that his Princeton Day School girls’ tennis team faced an uphill battle as they competed in the state Prep B tournament in late October to culminate the season.

“There were some incredibly good singles players in the Prep B this year, two on Ranney and two on Gill St. Bernard’s; certainly all four of them would have been among the best in Mercer County,” said PDS head coach Asch.

“There wasn’t really much of a chance at first or second singles for anybody else.”

But making the most of its chances in the other flights, PDS got state titles at third singles from freshman Neha Khandkar and at first doubles from juniors Hayden Masia and Hannah Van Dusen.

As a result, PDS took second in the team standings behind champion Gill St. Bernard’s.

In reflecting on the performance at the Prep B competition, Asch wasn’t surprised that his first doubles team came through with a title.

“They started off the year in and out but at mid-season, they really blossomed into a great team,” said Asch.

“A lot of the teams were playing them back on the court because they are both great hitters and then they started to angle their volleys away. Hannah is really incredible at the net and Hayden really started to hit great groundstrokes. She started to push the other girls back and Hannah would volley.”

It hasn’t taken long for Khandkar to blossom into something special for the Panthers.

“Neha is incredible, first of all, she is a real team player, she likes to train with her teammates,” said Asch.

“She will hit with anybody, that is really nice. She has the all around game and she has a head for the game. She loves to play, she is a very good athlete and moves really well.”

In assessing the fall, Asch liked the way his players competed against the good competition they faced.

“We play such a tough schedule, we had above a .500 record at 7-5,” said Asch.

“We lost to Pingry, Moorestown Friends, Lawrenceville, Haddonfield, and Blair. These are really great teams. We had some nice wins. We had a win over Peddie at the end of the year; it is always fun to beat a big school that is a rival.”

Asch believes the Panthers are looking at a fun season in 2020. “We have some very good players who might be challenging next year,” said Asch, who had sophomore Robyn Karchere-Sun at first singles this year and freshman Amy Zhou at second singles.

“We have a good team. As far as Prep B goes there were unusually strong teams this year and Mercer County is always tough to compete in, there are always a lot of good players. We actually have one of our deeper teams that we have ever had, going down like 12 or 13 places. The girls really enjoy playing with each other.”