May 4, 2022

Rising to the Occasion in the Return of the MCT, PDS Boys’ Tennis Places 5th in Team Standings

NO JOSHING AROUND: Princeton Day School boys’ tennis player Joshua Chu hits a forehand as he competed at the Mercer County Tournament last week. Junior Chu placed fourth at first singles as PDS took fifth in the team standings at the event held at the Mercer County Park tennis complex. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Competing in the opening rounds of the Mercer County Tournament last week, the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team thrived in the buzz created as 18 squads hit the courts for the competition.

With the MCT back at the Mercer County Park tennis complex after being canceled in 2020 due to the global pandemic and the format modified in 2021 to include only a CVC dual match tourney, PDS rose to the occasion.

At the end of the opening rounds on April 25, the Panthers were in fourth place just one point behind Princeton High, WW/P-South and WW/P-North. PDS saw junior Joshua Chu advance to the semifinals at first singles with Jason Wu following suit at third singles and the first doubles pair of Neel Adusumilli and Oliver Silverio making the final four in their flight.

“The atmosphere was electric on Monday,” said Panther head coach Michael Augsberger. “It has that carnival feel, it is brimming with intensity and atmosphere. They did really well, we were in the running for it.”

In the final rounds last Wednesday things didn’t go as well for PDS as each of their competitors fell in the semis and then went on to lose third-place matches.

“It feels quieter today, it feels a little bit less energetic,” said Augsberger whose squad ended up fifth in the team standings of the event win by WW/P-South.

Showing energy, Chu didn’t go quietly as he battled hard in his third place match against Bradley Deeds of Hopewell Valley.

“Joshua gained a lot; he knows now what he needs to work on to compete with these guys and to starting winning major tournaments like this,” said Augsberger. “We know there are game plans that he can choose, it is taking chances earlier. You want to jump on opportunities early but it is also fitness, putting in the work in the offseason. You have six sets you can play potentially in one day and 12 sets over three days. That is something he has to work on.”

At third singles, Wu made gains in his mental game, keeping his head when facing adversity.

“Jason has come miles from where he had been previously,” said Augsberger. “Today and Monday it was all about the right responses emotionally to difficult situations. He has a much more positive outlook on things. He is having fun out there. He was this close to third place at the MCT which is a great honor.”

The first doubles pair of Adusumilli and Silverio jumped out to a 6-0, 5-0 lead and then had to rally to force a third-set tiebreaker.

“The toughest thing is to close; you can’t play different, you can’t wait for them to lose it,” said Augsberger, reflecting on the tough setback. “It is a lesson they have to learn through the season. Getting into the tiebreaker, they showed great resiliency. They could have spiraled out of control. They started to take less risk but still be offensive. Neel started to make better decisions and  Oliver started to be more aggressive with his volleys. They got themselves in a position to win, that is all you can ask.”

With the state Prep B and Non-Public sectional tourneys coming up, Augsberger believes the experience of playing in the MCT will benefit his players down the stretch.

“It is good to have this caliber of a tournament early in the season because it gives you the test,” said Augsberger. “That can help you to win those tournaments that are more winnable. This one is probably tougher than that but maybe not than the states overall.”