The Holmdel girls tennis team came up just short in its NJSIAA Group II semifinal match against Haddonfield on Wednesday. The Hornets (18-2) fell 3-2 to the Bulldawgs (28-0) in a very competitive match from all five positions.
The highlight of the day for the Hornets came at first doubles after senior duo Lauren Byrket and Tiffany Huang defeated the 2012 NJSIAA doubles state champions Erica Pascocello and Arpie Senopoulas 6-3, 7-6 (2). Byrket and Huang fell to the Bulldawg duo earlier in the year, but were determined to put on a better show on Wednesday.
“We have grown so much as a team since the last time we played them,” Byrket said.
The team chemistry was undeniable, as the girls worked off each other’s serves and continued to finish points at the net.
“In the beginning of the season we weren’t really sure of how well we would work together,” Huang said.
“As the season went on we just got more confident, and came out steady today.”
Byrket credits their aggressiveness which got them off to a fast 6-3 win in the first set. The second set proved why the Bulldawg duo won the state doubles tournament this year. It came down to the tiebreak, but a fast 5-0 start for the Hornets proved to be enough to close out the match.
“There were definitely some nerves at the start of the tiebreak,” Byrket said.
“That fast start got us confident right away, and we just closed it out.”
Holmdel head coach Chuck Chelednik also saw his second doubles team of Sarah Yan and Nandini Krishnaswamy defeat Haddonfield’s Chelsea Brown and Sylvia Strauss 6-1, 1-6, (10-7).
“I was really proud of both of my doubles teams today,” Chelednik said.
“My second doubles have been playing better and better over the years.”
Chelednik also saw an improvement from his singles players, from the last time they played Haddonfield.
“You have to give them credit, they have good singles up and down,” Chelednik said.
“We came out with a good effort, but just came up a little short.”
At first singles Holmdel’s Katie McKay fell to Taylor Ng. Amanada Lanciano secured a point at second singles for the Bulldawgs after defeating Holmdel’s Alicia Lai 6-2, 6-2, and Victoria Martinez clinched the winning point of the match for Haddonfield at third singles after she defeated Lucy Wang.
There was still much to be proud of for the Hornets, who became Shore Conference champions after defeating Red Bank Catholic earlier in the season.
“We had a fantastic season,” Chelednik said.
“Everyone has peaked at this point, which is what you want this time of year.”
The Hornets will be graduating McKay from first singles, and Byrket and Huang from first doubles at the end of the season. Chelednik will look to his depth next year in hopes of another successful season from the Hornets.
“We should be alright next season,” Chelednik said.
“We have a lot of talent on our bench and they should be ready to go next year.”