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Sept. 20, 2007

Blazers outplay Bengals on the tennis courts

by Ya Zhou, Online Connections Editor & Online Copy Editor
BLAZER TENNIS COURTS, Sept. 20

The girls' tennis team surpassed the Blake Bengals in a closely matched 4-3 game, lifting its season record to 5-1. The Blazers beat out the competition with solid wins from several players but also fell in key matches, including the top two singles. Coach David Ngbea insists that the team needs to keep improving its net game and footwork in order to play at optimal standards.

The Bengals' number one singles player Carmen Jackman, currently ranked number 224 in the United States Tennis Association's Girls 18s, was unable to play in the game, so Blake coach Damon Pigrom shifted the lineup, choosing senior Sarah Monshimer to play in the top singles spot.

At first singles, junior Sneha Kannan lost in disappointing fashion to Monshimer's powerhouse backhand strokes. After recognizing her opponent's strength, Kannan hit high, lofty shots to avoid a drawn-out rally. However, Kannan's diligent attempts proved futile, and she ceded a 6-0, 6-3 loss.

Second singles freshman Shilpa Kannan did not fare much better, losing to Blake senior co-captain Anjalee Martin in a 6-2, 6-0 match. Kannan chose to stick with her signature rallies, but her opponent responded with equal capability. The other Blair single players were able to compensate for the losses by the top two though, as co-captain seniors Bonnie Ding and Priyanka Gokhale dominated the third and fourth singles matches, winning 6-1, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-0 respectively.

At first doubles, senior co-captain Jasleen Salwan and freshman Deepa Chellappa struggled in the game's longest match against the Bengals' co-captain senior Tara Arora and junior Kelly Shih. Though the pairs were evenly matched, the Bengals would often hit the ball into the far corners of the court, forcing Salwan and Chellappa to scramble all over to return it. The Blazers took advantage of Blake's inconsistencies and landed several powerful smashes from the net, but after a grueling 75-minute match, the Bengals bagged the 7-5, 6-3 win.

Like in singles, the Blazers were able to triumph in the lower-seeded matches. At second doubles, sophomores Tiffany Chang and Elissa Shiau soundly topped their opponents in 6-2, 6-2 game, while third doubles saw senior co-captain Amy Li and Yevgeniya Frankevych dominate in a 6-0, 6-1 match.

The Bengals' coach and co-captain praised the teamwork and ability of the Blazers. "Their doubles are strong. They're good enough to win," Pigrom said. Martin expressed similar admiration of the Blazers, especially praising their "solid number one and number two" players.

Ngbea was less pleased with the team's performance despite the win, repeatedly emphasizing the necessity of improving volleys and foot movement. He was also concerned with the competitiveness of the team as a whole. "We're not aggressive," he said. "We're playing with no confidence."

The girls' tennis team plays its next home game on Tuesday, Sept. 25 against B-CC at 3:30 p.m.



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