Chatham's Blydenburgh made rookie season count

Chatham's Blydenburgh made rookie season count

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Chatham's Blydenburgh made rookie season count

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Chatham’s Scarlett Blydenburgh wasted little time announcing her arrival on the New Jersey high school girls tennis scene this fall.

On the opening weekend of the season, the freshman found herself pitted against Montville senior Kirstin Godau, a state singles quarterfinalist as a junior, in her first-ever high school match at the Millburn Challenge. Blydenburgh prevailed in three sets despite her teams’ 3-2 loss to the Mustangs and her outstanding play instantly made her the favorite to win the Morris County Tournament first singles title.

“I really didn’t know what to think heading into my first high school match at such a big tournament,” said Blydenburgh. “I just wanted to perform well and it was a very close match. I remember that the last set was fun because everyone was cheering which is something you don’t get playing tournaments and it gave me a lot of energy.”

From there, Blydenburgh’s initial season took off. She teamed with fellow freshman Sophia Fredriksson at the top of the Cougars’ singles lineup and finished the year with a 22-4 record, captured the Morris County Tournament first singles title with a three-set win over Mendham’s Lauren Hassell while leading the Cougars to the team championship, and advanced to the third round of the NJSIAA Girls Singles Tournament.

Blydenburgh is the 2013 All Daily Record Girls Tennis Athlete of the Year.

“Sophia and I had a lot of USTA experience but there was still pressure coming in as freshmen and getting used to high school tennis,” Blydenburgh said. “It was a bit overwhelming at first but you got used to it pretty quickly. It also helped that I hit with (senior teammate) Emily Sroczynski before the season and she told me what to expect.”

Sroczynski played first singles for the Cougars as a junior but found herself playing first doubles in the senior campaign behind a singles lineup featuring Blydenburgh, Fredriksson, and junior transfer Bridgette Hickey.

“Emily and the rest of the team made me feel welcome and comfortable and were always supportive,” Blydenburgh said. “We really were all best friends in addition to teammates.”

Blydenburgh’s run to the Morris County Tournament first singles title didn’t come without a bump or two along the way. She defeated Montville’s Godau in three sets in the semifinals to push her into the final where she met Mendham’s Hassell, who had beaten her earlier in the week. Blydenburgh dropped the first set and appeared to be running out of gas before she caught her second wind and rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. After nearly seven hours of tennis, she had proven herself to be the top singles player in Morris County.

“I was tired in the first set against Lauren after a long match with Kirstin in the semis,” Blydenburgh said. “After I lost the first set, my coach (James Cai) told me that I had two options. I could walk off the court and everyone would still be proud of me or I could continue to give it my best and compete for every point. It paid off and I was honored to win the title.”

From there, Blydenburgh made a run to the third round at the NJSIAA Girls Singles Tournament before losing to Grace Kim of Moorestown Friends. She then helped her team secure a sectional title with another win over Mendham’s Hassell as the Cougars advanced past the Minutemen and to the group championships, where they fell to Princeton in the semis.

“It was a great season and I just want to work on improving my game to get ready for next year,” said Blydenburgh. “We really didn’t know what to expect as a team because we had so many new players. But we achieved so much and we have a lot to be proud of.”

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