Led by Defending State Champ Gu at 1st Singles, PHS Boys’ Tennis Has Potential for Stellar Season
FIRST IN HIS CLASS: Princeton High boys’ tennis player Jonathan Gu prepares to hit a backhand in a match last spring. Senior first singles star Gu, who won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) boys’ singles title last year, is primed for a big final campaign for PHS. The Tigers, who improved to 4-0 with a 5-0 win over Lawrence High last Thursday, host WW/P-North on April 20 before competing in the Mercer County Tournament on April 24 and 26 at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
There is plenty of optimism around the Princeton High boys’ tennis team as it has started its 2023 season.
“I think they realize that we have the potential to have a fantastic year — there are a lot of strengths in our singles lineup and the talent in the doubles as well,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, whose team improved to 4-0 with a 5-0 win over Lawrence High last Thursday and hosts WW/P-North on April 20 before competing in the Mercer County Tournament on April 24 and 26 at Mercer County Park.
“The challenge as always is putting together the doubles teams to support the singles players. We expect those players to hold their own quite a lot of the season; we want to have the doubles teams there to back them up.”
The Tigers boast a fantastic player at first singles in senior Jonathan Gu, who won the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) boys’ singles title last year to cap an undefeated season. Gu was the first state boys’ singles champion from PHS since Jacob Leschly in 1984.
“Jonathan had a fantastic year last year, going undefeated and winning the state championship; that is an amazing accomplishment for him,” said Hibbert of Gu who is heading to Carnegie Mellon University where he will continue his tennis career. “There are some players who are playing this year that did not play last year as well. He knows he is going to have a tough run to repeat. He is going to try his hardest to play his best tennis all year. We will see where things go. He continues to work on his all-around game, just putting forth his best effort each match.”
At second singles, junior Melvin Huang is known for putting forth a big effort all of the time.
“In terms of improvement, Melvin has really been working incredibly hard on his game as he always does,” said Hibbert. “He has put in a lot of effort. His challenge matches with Jonathan this year were much more competitive — they really had some great points. He is one of the hardest working people out there, he is always trying to improve. He is always willing to put in the work and the sweat.”
Freshman Garrett Mathewson has been providing some good work for PHS at third singles.
“Garrett is a solid player, he has got lots of weapons to his game,” said Hibbert. “He is a lefty. He has got powerful groundstrokes and a nice serve. We will look forward to him being able to settle into the high school tennis.”
At first doubles, junior Nikita Medvedev and sophomore Shaan Zaveri are developing into a solid pair.
“Nikita brings the doubles experience, and he is strong on serves and volley which is key in doubles,” said Hibbert.
“Shaan has grown several inches this year and worked really hard on his game. He looked good during preseason, so we are hoping that two of them will complement each other nicely. There is always a learning curve working with a new doubles partner.”
Junior Aman Kapur and freshman Andrew Kuo have been complementing each other at second doubles.
“Aman stepped up for us in a really big way last year, he brings a lot of consistency and hustle,” said Hibbert, noting that freshman Aashil Patel has also seen action at doubles.
“He is incredibly fast, he runs down everything. Andrew has a really solid game and groundstrokes. He is more of a singles player as many of them are before they come to high school. I think he will make a smooth transition to doubles. He has a good serve, he has really solid groundstrokes. Hopefully, he and Aman will work together well.”
With the MCT coming up, Hibbert is confident that PHS will make a good showing at the competition.
“We are certainly hoping that this would be a year that we would put it together,” said Hibbert. “It is going to be a little difficult because of the draws and the seeding and everything. We have a really strong group of guys his year, especially for Jonathan’s senior year, so we are hoping to have the best season possible.”