Combination of youth and experience carries girls tennis to a 12-2 record

How do you earn the number one seed in the New Jersey State Girls Tennis tournament?

If you ask Co-Captain Maggie Herring ’17, who plays first doubles, fruit snacks are a big part of it. Well, on top of countless practices, hard work, and a successful Mercer County Tournament outing. The girls tennis team currently sits at a 122 record, only being bested by Hightstown High School twice.        

Despite losing five seniors last year, the girls team’s addition of three freshman players on the varsity team has factored into this season’s performance.

“Our varsity line up [of seven players] has three freshmen in it. It’s good because it means that we have new incoming talent and it will strengthen the team overall and will be that case for the next couple of years,” said Co-Captain Elise Gerdes ’17, who plays second singles. “[The underclassmen] have worked really hard, and I’ve seen so much improvement in them.”

“A lot of the teams that we compete against [have] freshman at the top spots. Our freshmen [were] playing against Hightstown High School’s number one, who’s [also] a freshman,” said Head Coach Christian Herzog. “It seems that tennis in New Jersey is on the rebound, because a lot of kids are starting earlier, doing a lot more training, and are coming in stronger their freshman year.”

Additionally, the team has experienced some coaching changes. Head Coach Sarah Hibbert went on maternity leave, so Herzog stepped up as the head coach. The transition has been seamless due to the same goals and philosophies Hibbert and Herzog share.

“The last nine years, I’ve been assistant coach to Hibbert,” Herzog said. “We refer to ourselves as brother and sister, and we finish each other’s sentences … In terms of her expectations and my expectations, we’re both on the same page.”

The team began the season with a shutout victory 5–0 at home against Steinert High School on September 6, followed by six consecutive victories before losing to Hightstown High School.

The consecutive win streak included a 5–0 rout of West Windsor Plainsboro High School North and a 3–2 defeat of their longtime rival West Windsor Plainsboro High School South.

“Playing WW-PS this year, we knew that they lost their two strongest players and … we knew they wouldn’t be as strong as they [were], so that felt good going into it,” Gerdes said. “We felt pretty confident that this year could be our chance [to] make something happen … After [eight] years [of] not being able to beat South, it was definitely an accomplishment.”

At the Mercer County Tournament, the team tied with WW-PS for second place, with five of the teams placing in the top three for their category. Second doubles and Co-Captain Brinda Suppiah ’17 and Adriana Todorov ‘19 led the way, leaving the team with a Mercer County title. After what has already been a historic season, the team looks to the future with members who will step up to carry the team.

“At the end of this year, we are going to lose our senior class that have carried us,” Herzog said. “But we have a few young players who are on the edge of varsity.  I anticipate we will be a talented team next year.”

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