Making Most of Season Limited by COVID Restrictions, Hun Girls’ Tennis Showed Improvement, Had Fun
STROKE OF BRILLIANCE: Hun School girls’ tennis player Sophia Lin hits a backhand in a match this fall. Senior co-captain Lin starred at second singles for the Raiders, helping Hun post a 3-2-2 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Joan Nuse took the helm of the Hun School girls’ tennis team in 1987 and guided it to nine Mercer County Tournament titles, three Prep B State crowns, three Prep A State championships, and three Mid-Atlantic Prep League championships, earning a spot in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Taking an eight-year hiatus from the program, Nuse coached the Hun boys’ tennis squad for one season and then became the head coach of the Raider swimming team for the next seven years.
This fall, with Hun not having a coach for the girls’ tennis team as the fall approached, Nuse agreed to return for a second act.
“It was interesting to be back, I hadn’t expected to be even doing it,” said Nuse.
“It has been awhile since I have done the girls. I really enjoyed coaching with Ian McNally. He was a lot of fun.”
Despite having to work through COVID-19 protocols and having a season limited to seven matches, Hun had a lot of fun this fall as it went 3-2-2.
“The fact that we got to play a season was good,” said Nuse, whose team posted a pair of wins over Stuart Country Day School and one over Pennington School with two hard-fought losses to the Princeton Day School and two 2-2 ties due to darkness with Moorestown Friends and Pennington.
“We had some wins and we played pretty well. It was good. I saw improvement in all of them so that was good to see as well.”
Sophomore Amanda Francis played well at first singles. “For a person her size, she hits the ball really hard,” said Nuse.
“She is pretty tiny, she really gets out there. No 1 is a really hard position to be in. By her playing there, she helps everybody else out because they don’t have to move higher.”
At second singles, senior co-captain Sophia Lin proved to be a steadying force in an unusual fall.
“She did well as a senior in a pandemic,” said Nuse, noting that Lin ended the season with a marathon win in a third set tiebreak over Neha Khandkar of Princeton Day School.
“She is taking all kinds of super-duper academic classes; she really, really was juggling a lot of different things but she did it. She made a good commitment to the team and was there every match. That is really important. I have known her since she was in seventh grade so it was fun for me to get to see her in her senior year.”
Freshman Anna Schweer enjoyed a special debut campaign at third singles.
“Anna went undefeated; she had a tie against Moorestown Friends when it got dark but other than that she won every match,” said Nuse.
“Anna is a really smart player. She is solid and doesn’t give up on anything. She is very coachable.”
A pair of sophomores, Ellyana Perosi and Sabrina Wang, gave Hun solid work at first doubles.
“They play really well together; the mesh between them was really solid,” added Nuse.
“They were fun to watch, they get along really well. They were roommates freshman year and I think they played second doubles last year so they have been playing together for a while. They are both really solid and pretty aggressive. They were also pretty coachable; I saw a lot of growth in them as doubles players this year.”
Senior co-captain Mahika Chadha and junior Lindsay Armstrong showed growth in the second doubles spot.
“Mahika is a four-year senior so she brought a really solid game and a solid understanding of what tennis is like in the area,” said Nuse.
“She is just a really nice person, she is the kind of person who could play with anybody. One of the highlights of the season with Mahika and Lindsay was when they played Stuart the second time. They played so much better than when they lost the first time. They really progressed and instead of saying oh here we are again, they went out and beat them. I thought that was big.”
In Nuse’s view, the program is poised to do some big things with five returning players.
“Next year, the team should be in pretty good shape,” said Nuse.
“The JV team was solid. There was really very little difference between the bottom of varsity and the top of JV so that should bode well.”
No matter what the future brings, Hun made the most out of this fall.
“When it came to it, we did what we could do,” said Nuse. “We went out, we played, we got better, and we had fun.”