Boys tennis battles through early Mercer County Tournament

The boys tennis team has been gearing up for a competitive postseason, despite less than ideal practice conditions at the beginning of the season. Head Coach Sarah Hibbert hopes to continue developing a consistent lineup throughout the season, as the team began competing in the Mercer County Tournament on April 20, while most other sports compete in the MCT beginning in May. The team entered the tournament undefeated after five games.

The season got off to a winning start with the Little Tigers’ defeating Trenton Central High School 5–0, despite a lack of playing time due to inclement weather. Going into her first game back as head coach, Hibbert had been unsure about the team’s full potential, as the group had had limited playing time as a result of the wet PHS tennis courts. Additionally, three games were canceled because of the weather.

Andrew Lin ’16 practices his ground stroke on April 14. photo: Caroline Smith

Andrew Lin ’16 practices his ground stroke on April 14.
photo: Caroline Smith

“It’s been hard to [develop a lineup] because we’ve had really bad weather,” Hibbert said. “Unfortunately the teams we’ve played haven’t been the strongest yet, so we haven’t really had a chance to see how the lineup will shake out.”

To cope with unavailability of courts, the team worked diligently on its fitness. Players ran and exercised in order to build up the endurance needed during a match. At other practices, the team would play on the wet courts.

“We’ve only got a couple days of match play in [due to the rain] but it should only get better from here. The weather will be [nicer]” said Co-Captain Rishab Tanga ’15.

With only three seniors on the team, the group has a relatively young lineup. While the team will continue to develop a lineup for future years, it will still put importance on preforming this season.

“Each year is important for us, for the team, for the kids, so we’d really like to have as strong a season as we can this year,” Hibbert said. “I don’t look too far ahead because you never know what [will] happen in the future.”

One area of experience for the team comes from Co-Captains Tanga and Tyler Hack ’15, who have participated in the program for the past three years.

“Tanga and Hack have been there since freshman year and we’d love to have a great season for them to go out with. They’ve been an integral part of our lineup,” Hibbert said.

“Hack and I have been trying to help the doubles [teams] out… we’ve been giving them some tips becasue we played doubles freshman year,” Tanga said.

Despite this aid, the inability to practice consistently has hindered the abilities of Hibbert and Assistant Coach Christian Herzog to choose doubles teams and see the top players’ true potential.

“We need to get our doubles teams solidified, and get them started [on] working together. Unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to do that with the rain and inconsistencies with time on [the] court, but hopefully it’ll come together and we’ll be able to improve,” Hibbert said.

A change in the team’s playing schedule meant that it went into the Mercer County Tournament with only five games under its belt. After the MCT, the regular season resumes, culminating in the state tournament.

“The season’s quite condensed [due to canceled games], so it’s very early for county’s. We’ve played [five] matches going into county’s and that’s not usually the way it is but unfortunately this year that’s the case,” Hibbert said.

However, Hibbert is determined to maintain a positive attitude throughout the season in order to encourage the athletes to do so as well. “Every year we try to do as well as we can, [the team tries to] win as many matches as possible, and do well against the strong rivals,” Hibbert said. “[We] just [want to] put up as good a showing as we can and place well at county’s and states.”

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