October 26, 2022

Enjoying Her Journey to Princeton from Germany, Roggenkamp Helps PHS Girls’ Tennis Make State Final

HAPPY KAMPER: Princeton High girls’ tennis player Johanna Roggenkamp warms up as she got ready for her first singles match in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 3 state final against Montgomery High last Thursday. Roggenkamp and the Tigers, who defeated Shawnee 3-2 in the Group 3 state semis earlier in the day, fell 5-0 to the Cougars in the final. PHS, who moved 13-2 with the loss, is slated to host Lawrence on October 26 before playing at WW/P-South on October 27 and at Allentown on October 28 to wrap up regular season action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming to Princeton this fall from Germany, Johanna Roggenkamp faced some challenges as she joined the Princeton High girls’ tennis team.

“It is very different,” said junior Roggenkamp, a native of Heidelberg whose parents came to the U.S. for stints at the Institute of Advanced Studies. “It was the first time I have played people that are very much older than me.”

Earning the first singles spot on the squad, Roggenkamp honed her game over the course of the fall.

“I got better at defending because people hit harder,” said Roggenkamp.

On October 18, Roggenkamp helped PHS defend its New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title as it topped Red Bank Regional 3-2.

Two days later, the Tigers headed to the Mercer County Park tennis complex to face Shawnee in the Group 3 state seniors where it pulled out a 3-2 win that came down to 10-point match tiebreaker in second doubles.

“It was very exciting, it was very close,” said Roggenkamp. “That was very nice that we won.”

Hours later in the Group 3 state final against Montgomery, PHS played some exciting tennis but fell 5-0 to the Cougars.

Roggenkamp battled hard but lost in straight sets to Montgomery star Devon De Sanctis.

“She played very well, she hit very hard balls,” said Roggenkamp, reflecting on the match. “I did my best to defend, I run around a lot and I try to get every ball.”

PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert was thrilled to see her squad pull out the hard-fought win over Shawnee in its unlikely run to the state final.

“At the start of the season, knowing that we only had two returning players, we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Hibbert. “We thought it might be little bit of a rebuilding year but the girls have really stepped up. They started clicking as the season went on.”

The second doubles team of freshman Ashna Bushan and senior Sophie Miller stepped up with their dramatic 7-6, 4-6, 10-8 win over Shawnee.

“They were down 2-5 and 6-8 in the tiebreaker and they just really were able to dig in when it really counted,” said Hibbert. “They had been really nervous. You could see that they weren’t playing they best tennis but when it really counted they pulled out four points that we desperately needed and we were able to snatch a victory.”

In Hibbert’s view, her team’s 3-2 regular season defeat to WW/P-North on September 27 helped fuel the state run.

“I think the loss to North might have a big factor in that because they were frustrated by that and they knew they could do better,” said Hibbert. “The second time we saw them (in the sectional semi on October 14), they proved they could do better when we won 4-1 in a convincing fashion. That is what happened to us last year, we lost to Hightstown in the first match and then after that we beat North, we beat Hightstown and won the sectional championship. Sometimes as frustrating as it can be, in the long run it helps you as a wake-up call.”

Hibbert knew her team was facing a tough battle in the championship match against Montgomery.

“They are obviously a strong team, they have a lot of seasoned players at least four or five seniors on the team,” said Hibbert. “I know a lot of players have been in the lineup for multiple years plus they got Devon back who hasn’t played high school tennis before. She is a really strong player and made their lineup even stronger.”

Hibbert credited Roggenkamp with putting up a strong fight in her match.

“Johanna gave her a great battle, she fights for every shot,” said Hibbert. “You think you have won the point five times and those balls come back and then you miss a shot.”

Seeing the team’ seniors, first doubles player Ashley Chen and second doubles player Miller, get a shot at a state title was heartening for Hibbert.

“This was fantastic for them as seniors because they knew, coming back that they were losing the whole team,” said Hibbert. “They really shored up their partners today. Ashley and Maya-Alexandra Todorov have been a really steady position for us all season at first doubles, they worked really well together. Unfortunately they ran into the No. 2 seed in the state today. We had places where we could have improved and played a little better.”

While things could have gone better against Montgomery, Hibbert is proud of her team’s postseason run.

“Overall we are thrilled, coming into the season we were like well we will still beat the teams we were expected to but we are probably going to have a tough time with some of the stronger ones,” said Hibbert, whose team moved to 13-2 with the loss to the Cougars and is slated to host Lawrence on October 26 before playing at WW/P-South on October 27 and at Allentown on October 28 to wrap up regular season action.

“The girls have really stepped up and have worked hard. They have had some great results. Just to make it here and have the win in the morning and be Group finalists in a year with five new players is great.”

The future looks great for the Tigers. “It is absolutely a good foundation,” said Hibbert, whose lineup includes sophomore Lada Labas at second singles, freshman Katie Qin at third singles, sophomore Todorov at first doubles and Bushan at second doubles.

“They have been here now, they have experienced this and they really enjoyed the day. They will be able to bring some of that experience to next year’s team and you never know who is going to show up.”

Helping PHS on its run to the state final was a great experience for Roggenkamp.

“Playing for the school is very nice, we are a good team,” said Roggenkamp. “The girls have been nice, I like the U.S.”