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Sept. 25, 2009

Walter Johnson faces Blair in two extended matches

by Mandy Xu, News and Entertainment editor
BLAZER TENNIS COURTS - Sept. 24

The girls' varsity tennis team endured lengthy single and double matches throughout its meet with Walter Johnson, a divisional school. Although the two schools were evenly matched, the Wildcats' stability and consistency secured their win, 5-2. Despite the Blazers' persistence, this meet brought Blair's win-loss record down to 3-4.

Junior Shilpa Kannan persevered against opponent Wildcats sophomore Sarah Bernstein, but eventually lost to Bernstein 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 at first singles. The match lasted approximately three hours; the first singles' second set was just beginning as the others finished their matches. Bernstein's quick movements and strides were an even match to Kannan's precise returns. The pair volleyed back and forth and successfully kept the ball in play. Though Kannan won the first set, Bernstein's aggressive strokes secured Bernstein's win. "A lot of the points were really long. We were hitting back and forth, especially throughout the first set," Kannan said. "I lost steam towards the end. I was running a lot in the match, so I was exhausted."

Blair's two wins included second doubles, featuring junior Hannah Ho and junior Ava Wallace against Wildcat sophomore Sarah Breen and junior Lita Talisman, and third doubles, consisting of junior Ann Choi and sophomore Anna Lu against sophomore Christina Chen and junior Gaby Cavanagh. Ho and Wallace won 6-1, 6-3 while Choi and Lu succeeded 6-2, 6-2. Both Blair doubles pairs played weaker towards the beginning of the second set. "I think we did pretty well in the first set. In the beginning we were pretty confident," Lu said.

"But in the middle, they started to hit hard." Ho said of the experience. "We definitely didn't play a good game even though we won. We would do weird things," Ho said. "Only when it's close do you tend to play more carefully."

At first doubles, senior captains Tiffany Chang and Elissa Shiau also faced a prolonged match against Wildcat senior captains Maggie Speer and Alison Smith where they lost 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Speer and Smith sent scattered returns, enabling them to gain an advantage. Chang and Shiau were forced to move quickly around the court to return their strokes. While the beginning was tough, Chang and Shiau gained momentum as the second set progressed. Despite this, Chang and Shiau weakened towards the end of the match. "I think out biggest problem was mental," said Shiau. "After the second set, they won four games in a row."

Coach Ngbea attributes the loss to the team's overall inability to move around the court. The Walter Johnson team was skilled in executing quick steps, while the Blazers were still struggling with the maneuver. "Tennis is a running game. If the ball is hit short, the players are required to run," Ngbea said. "I tell them to move, but they don't do so when they play."

The girls' tennis team will play its next home game against B-CC Thursday, Oct. 8 at 3:30 p.m.

Editor's note: Ava Wallace is a Silver Chips Online staff writer.




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