October 4, 2017

Lifted by Newly Formed 1st Doubles Pair, PHS Girls’ Tennis Finishes 5th at MCT

INSTANT CHEMISTRY: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Denise Yang, foreground, covers the net as Caroline Tan hits a forehand in action last week at the Mercer County Tournament. The first doubles pair of senior Yang and junior Tan, who had just played one match together before the MCT, took second in their flight. PHS ended up fifth in the team standings at the event. The Little Tigers will start play in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional this week where they are seeded third and are slated to host a quarterfinal match on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Caroline Tan and Denise Yang didn’t have much time to prepare for the Mercer County Tournament.

Due to the reshuffling in the lineup of the Princeton High girls’ tennis team, junior Tan and senior Yang were paired together at first doubles just days before the MCT started on September 25.

Developing an instant chemistry, they ended up providing a highlight of the tourney for PHS, winning three matches to advance to the finals of their flight.

Although Tan and Yang ended up falling short in the final, dropping a tough three-setter to Arya Jha and Tarika Kumar of Princeton Day School, PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert was proud of what the pair accomplished.

“To come out here and make it to the final, they were really competing,” said Hibbert, noting that Tan and Yang had to survive a three-set challenge match with the PHS second doubles team of Sora Sato and Adriana Todorova to earn their spot in the lineup.

“It was really hot today and they had a long first match. On a different day, it could have gone a different way. They lost some momentum at the end and the other team started playing much better. Unfortunately, they couldn’t close it out today. Finishing second for a team that had played one match together before the tournament is fantastic.”

The second doubles pair of sophomore Sato and junior Todorova also excelled, taking third in their flight as PHS finished fifth of 18 schools in the team standings at the competition held at the Mercer County Park tennis complex.

“They had a real tough long semifinal match as well,” said Hibbert in assessing the play of Sato and Todorova.

“A couple of things didn’t quite go their way when they needed them to in the semi, but they were able to turn that around and come back for a good third place showing.”

While the Little Tigers didn’t have as good a showing at the MCT in singles play as they had hoped, Hibbert noted that there was more parity at the event this year than in the past.

“It is a very competitive county this year; there is a whole crew of teams that were very close together,” said Hibbert.

“A lot of people had competitors in there, so I think this is one of the most competitive overall tournaments we have had in a long time.”

In Hibbert’s view, the experience that PHS gained from competing hard at the MCT will help it going forward.

“Any time you have matches that are competitive, win or lose, they teach you something for the future,” said Hibbert, whose team defeated Hamilton 5-0 last Monday to improve to 7-0 in dual match action and will start play in the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional this week where they are seeded third and are slated to host a quarterfinal match on October 10.

“We prefer to win but you learn as much from your losses as you do from your wins. Going forward, we have a couple of tough ones coming up and hopefully we can use what we learned today to just help us get better. You do the best you can and you see what happens.”