On the opening afternoon of high school tennis season, Kate Fahey toed the baseline at Fair Haven Fields and delivered the opening salvo of what would prove to be a spectacular sophomore season in which the Bulldogs leader cemented herself as the class of the Shore Conference.
Fahey would roll through local singles play, winning the Monmouth County Flights Tournament for a second consecutive season with an impressive finals victory over Manasquan’s Abby Duddy in straight sets (6-0, 6-0) en route to a NJSIAA State Singles Tournament finals meeting with Westfield’s Lexi Borr.
Though Borr earned a tidy 6-2, 6-1 victory, Fahey’s only loss of the year next to 21 wins, the sophomore named that championship bout one of the best performances of her young career, and a wonderful learning experience.
“That was a great match,” explained Fahey. “I had played Lexi before and we had practiced together in the past, so we were familiar with one another and I knew how great a player she was.”
Wind gusts tore through the outdoor court that morning, wreaking havoc on Fahey’s heavy forehand smash and equally potent finesse game, causing the Bulldogs’ captain to take a more defensive approach. A method she was pleased to be able to pull off.
“We were outdoors for that match and It was very windy that afternoon making it even tougher to play such a consistent counter-puncher like Lexi, but it was a great learning experience. I never knew I could be that consistent throughout a match. It’s nice to know I have that style of play in my arsenal if I ever need it.”
Fahey said her fondest memory from such a successful fall session was not her individual achievements, but camaraderie she experienced in the team setting.
“The highlight of my season was playing on a team. I love all the girls on my team. They’re all talented players that really care about the game and playing it the right way.”
“Playing in the USTA (United States Tennis Association), it really gets lonely out there sometimes when you’re on the court for two or three hours by yourself. You don’t have anyone else to talk to, or cheer for you, or scream and yell at you when you need that type of motivation.”
“Sometimes I’d talk to my teammates in between games and it wouldn’t have to be about the match. It would just be about random things sometimes. Even if the subject of the conversations weren’t that important, it was a great feeling to have somebody there for me. It meant a lot.”
Fahey returns to Rumson-Fair Haven next season as a junior with her on the prize that’s eluded her for two seasons: The NJSIAA singles title.