Sports

Serving up for States

JPS Girl's Tennis 013

First singles Claire Pan (11) warms up on a forehand shot against rival East Brunswick.

By LAUREN TENCZA, junior

The Lady Hawks tennis team has a lot to live up to this year following its impressive second place finish in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) tournament and in the Red Division last season. However, they are already surpassing these high expectations. Led by GMC 2013 Coach of the Year, Coach Pisano, the Hawks currently hold an undefeated 10-0 record as well as the title of this year’s GMC Champions. These results reflect their inexorable determination to end up on top of the State sectionals this season. With a team comprised of both experienced returning players and driven newcomers, their goal may very well be in reach.

Leading the Hawks this year are captains Michelle Tsung (12) and Claire Pan (11). Michelle Tsung, along with her first doubles partner, Jessica Ho (11), have qualified for the NJSIAA State Doubles Tournament this season. Michelle has been an integral part of the team for many years and says, “I’m so grateful for having the chance to experience four years of playing tennis for JP, and I have a funny feeling that we’ll be achieving much more this year.”

Her co-captain, Claire Pan, also holds a hefty résumé. As former GMC champion at second singles, Claire is currently competing at first singles and comments, “I’m really glad we were able to break East Brunswick’s eight-year winning streak at County’s. Now I’m excited to see how far we can go this year in State sectionals.” Both Claire and co-captain Michelle are optimistic about the season ahead of them.

The girls’ success began immediately during the first week of the season, when they put an end to Livingston’s three-year winning streak in the September Smash tournament. Julia Zou (12) and Stephanie Zhou (12) at second doubles contributed an important victory to the Hawks’ overall 4-1 triumph. The teams’ winning streak continued all the way through the GMC tournament, when second singles Deepti Talesra (10) and third singles Jackie Quan (11) became individual GMC champions after beating rival players from East Brunswick and South Brunswick, respectively. These two wins were momentous in giving the Hawks the GMC Overall Team gold. Shortly following the GMCs, the girls competed in the North Jersey Group IV state tournament, where they are seeded first in their section and tenth in the state. They advanced past the quarterfinals and semifinals, defeating two heavies Watchung Hill and Westfield, and hope to do play just as well in the finals against Ridge.

These massive achievements can be attributed to a strong, balanced lineup this year. The two veteran singles players, Claire Pan and Deepti Talesra, are combined with new singles player Jackie Quan. The varsity team also has impressive new additions, Ishani Kulkarni (9) and Christina Xue (10), who are competing at second doubles together this year. Making varsity as a freshman, Ishani wishes to “improve her game over the next four years” and is grateful to the upperclassmen for showing her the ropes on the court.

Combining each player’s individual determination to succeed, along with guidance of Coach Pisano, the Hawks’ season is as promising as it has ever looked. If their current undefeated record is any kind of a indication, the girls’ tennis team might just go all the way to claim the State sectionals trophy this year.

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