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Tennis Drops Sachem East to Grab League Lead

September 17, 2014

When two great teams meet, talent alone is not enough to prevail since plenty of enough skill can be found on either side. What separates great teams from each other is how that talent is nurtured with hard work and preparation. So far this season our girls have embraced these things, thanks to the leadership of head coach Jennifer Crane.

After morning rains soaked our tennis courts yesterday, coach Crane was out on the courts with a roller, squeegeeing them by hand so that her team could maximize their practice time that afternoon. Hands blistered and shoulders aching, coach Crane’s hard work enabled her team to have a much more efficient practice, something that may have paid dividends this morning. Coach Crane was back on the courts this morning, working on technique with Angela Wong and Ha Min Cho, preparing the girls mentally and physically for today’s important match. This afternoon, all of that hard work and preparation paid off.

In a showdown between undefeated squads that could ultimately determine the League VI Championship, the girls tennis team showed tremendous poise and perseverance as they outplayed the Flaming Arrows to grab sole possession of first place.

In one of the closest matches of the afternoon, Akari Yoshida defeated Sachem’s top singles player (7-6 (7-3), 7-5) in the match that clinched the win for the Bears. The momentum swings were large in the first set and Yoshida grabbed it first, sandwiching a break between two service holds to take a 3-0 lead. Yoshida held a 4-2 lead when three straight breaks followed before her opponent ultimately held serve to bring the set to a 5-5 deadlock. Yoshida then had her serve broken for a third consecutive time to fall behind 5-6, just a game away from dropping the set. Yoshida battled to force deuce after facing a set point, and finally won the game after a lengthy rally to force a tie-breaker. Yoshida raced out to a 6-0 lead in the tie-break before ultimately winning it 7-3 to take the first set.

In the second set Yoshida again broke her opponent in the final game to win it 7-5 and secure the team victory. Yoshida was impressive in her match, varying her strokes and the speed on her shots and causing her opponent to race back-and-forth along the baseline. Even more impressive was her mental toughness. It would have been easy to allow the first set to slip away after losing the lead and having her serve broken three straight times; but she buckled down and made the shots she needed to make and won a crucial match for the Bears.

Toughness was a trait that ran through the entire team today. Nancy Lin showed incredible perseverance, shaking off a rolled ankle in the first set and a deficit in the second to take the third singles match 6-4, 7-5. Brianna Holochuck and Chelsea Garbe won an important third doubles match, showing tremendous resilience in the process. After dropping the first set 4-6, they turned the table and won the second and third sets 6-3 and 6-0, respectively. Olivia Braat, despite dropping her match, played beautiful tennis, painting the sidelines a number of times and attacking the net. She remained poised despite being behind early and continued to force her opponent into difficult shots. Between sets her opponent was pleading with her coach to give her some pointers because she felt it could have easily swung in Olivia’s favor. Finally, the second doubles tandem of Julia Braat and Jillian Ho pushed their opponents to the edge and hit a number of beautiful shots at the net, but ultimately fell in a closely contested match.

Several other players continued to impress. 7th-grader Sadhana Sridhar shined as she buried her second singles opponent 6-2, 6-2 under a barrage of powerful forehands. After her dominant performance the Sachem East coach congratulated her and asked if she was twelve or thirteen-years-old. “Eleven,” she politely responded. The first doubles tandem of Angela Wong/Ha Min Cho battled back from an 0-3 deficit in the first set to win it 7-5. They were in the midst of a tie-breaker in the second set when darkness postponed their finish until the two teams meet again. Despite that match not being completed, the Bears won the requisite four matches to win.

With the win the girls improve to 6-0. They are back in action on Monday @ Longwood in a non-league tilt.

Results

Singles

1. Akari Yoshida | 7-6 (1), 7-5
2. Sadhana Sridhar | 6-2, 6-2
3. Nancy Lin | 6-4, 7-5
4. Olivia Braat | 1-6, 4-6

Doubles

1. Ha Min Cho/Angela Wong | 7-5, 6-6 (3-4) postponed due to darkness
2. Julia Braat/Jillian Ho | 5-7, 2-6
3. Brianna Holochuck/Chelsea Garbe | 4-6, 6-3, 6-0

 

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