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Sept. 25, 2007

B-CC Barons defeat the Blazers

by Ya Zhou, Online Connections Editor & Online Copy Editor
In torturous heat, the girls' tennis team was pitted on Tuesday against the Divison I Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons. Although both teams played assiduously and appeared evenly matched, the Barons ended on top, winning 5-2 and sending the Blazers' record to 5-2. Second singles freshman Shilpa Kannan and fourth singles senior co-captain Priyanka Gokhale gave the Blazers the two winning matches, but coach David Ngbea was disappointed with the Blazers' overall performance.

In first singles, junior Sneha Kannan faced B-CC sophomore Darien Sears, currently ranks 48th on USTA's Girls 16s list. Sears displayed a controlled and powerful forehand, and Kannan's tendency to hit balls directly to her opponent played into her loss. "I didn't hit enough winners," she said. Although Kannan serves were generally stronger than her opponent's, Sears' consistency allowed her to top Kannan in the 6-1, 6-1 match.

Shilpa Kannan's strong baseline hits gave her an advantage over her opponent, senior Anne Nowlin, winning a 90-minute 6-4, 6-3 match. Third singles senior co-captain Bonnie Ding lost disappointingly in the third set after a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 game. At fourth singles, Gokhale edged past the Barons' senior co-captain Sydney Sears to take a hard-earned 7-5, 6-4 win.

At first doubles, senior co-captain Jasleen Salwan and sophomore Deepa Chellappa surrendered a 6-3, 6-3 loss to seniors Kim Howard and Caroline Sieber despite some careless mistakes by the Barons in the second set. Near the end of the second set, Chellappa suffered a minor ankle injury but continued playing. Despite the loss, the Blazers focused on footwork and played more actively. "We did make a lot of mistakes, but we are improving and we were more aggressive," Salwan said.

The Barons' were missing one of the second doubles players, senior co-captain Olivia Burr, and filled her position with freshman Madison Yeutter. The second doubles team of sophomores Elissa Shaiu and Tiffany Chang made a solid effort as well, consistently ran to save balls, but lost by heartbreaking margins in two hard-fought sets, 7-5, 7-5. At third doubles, senior co-captain Amy Li and sophomore Yevgeniya Frankevych also surrendered a 6-3, 6-1 loss.

The Barons' narrow wins in several of the matches exemplified the two teams' similar ability, according to Barons' coach Betsy Heidenberger. "There were lots of close matches. Both teams have a lot of depth; there's not much disparity," she said.

Ngbea was succinct in his postgame reactions. "Not good. Not good at all," he said. He had hoped that the Blazers would put into action the skills and strategies taught during practices. For example, he had instructed the team to lob balls over the heads of the opponents instead of aiming directly at them.

Overall, Ngbea felt that the loss was preventable and undeserved. "We're losing because we're making mistakes," he said. "Tons and tons of mistakes."

The girls' tennis team plays its next home game on Friday Oct. 5 against Churchill at 3:30 p.m.



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