Blair team struggles against top seed opponents
Girls' tennis county and regional playoffs ended on Oct. 26. Senior co-captains Sarah Tran and Deepa Chellappa played a doubles match in regional playoffs but did not advance to the next round. In county playoffs, every regular singles and doubles player participated, but neither singles nor doubles players made it through from the quarter- finals to the semi-finals.Coach David Ngbea believes the playoffs reflected the teams' season performance. "Our performance in the playoffs was indicative of how the season went for us," Ngbea said. Due to the low number of points gained by the Blair tennis team throughout the season, the team was at risk of losing its Division I title. During the season, the team was only able to defeat one other Division I team. "Schools with the least wins drop a division," Tran said. Blair, Richard Montgomery, and Magruder, all Division I teams, were at risk of losing the Division I title. After discussion, Magruder dropped a division, because it did not win against any Division I team during the season. In its place, Sherwood moved up a Division I. "It depended on the scores. You have to win against one in your division to stay there," Tran said.
At county playoffs, Blair's tennis team played other schools with a much stronger season record. "Our regular season record was not strong at many positions," Ngbea said. "That had us playing the top seeded players early in the county tournament thereby minimizing our chances for advancement deep in the competition."
The team won four points in county playoffs. Starting from the quarterfinals, each singles and doubles teams gain a point with each advance. There is a discrepancy between the team's performance at county playoffs this year and the previous years. "This was one of the lowest points we've ever gotten," Ngbea said.
First singles player junior Shilpa Kannan(3-8) record, and second singles player Chellapa,(3-8), needed to play in the preliminary rounds of the county playoffs before entering the round of 16 according to Ngbea. Kannan won her preliminary round against Blake but lost in her first round 4-6, 1-6 against Sarah Bernstein from Walter Johnson. Chellappa did not attend the preliminary round against her opponent from Magruder due to illness.
At second singles, Tran(7-4), won the first round against Sherwood's second singles player and advanced to quarter finals. There, she played an opponent from Wootton and lost. At fourth singles, freshman Janvi Raichura (5-6) lost the first round to Richard Montgomery.
Although doubles teams did not make it past semi-finals either, two doubles teams were seeded fourth at their respective positions. Number two doubles players Hannah Ho and Ava Wallace(10-2), made it to quarterfinals and faced B-CC. Though Ho and Wallace defeated B-CC before during a season match, the doubles team lost to them in quarter finals. At third doubles, junior Ann Choi and sophomore Anna Lu (8-4) defeated Quince Orchard's third doubles team in the first round, and lost to their opponent from Churchill in the next stage. At number one doubles, senior co-captains Elissa Shiau and Tiffany Chang similarly won the first round against Richard Motgomery's first doubles team, but lost against Churchill's first doubles pair in the quarter finals.
The mistakes made throughout the season were repeated in the playoffs. "We struggled with volleys with our doubles teams, and consistency with our singles," Ngbea said. "That is why we did not go as far as we normally have." In the past, the tennis team usually proceeded to semi-finals, and sometimes finals.
Looking back at the tough season, Ngbea considers the challenges that will arise next year. "It will be even more challenging next season because we are losing six seniors," he said. "I am hoping that we shall get a strong incoming 9th graders and significant improvement from our returning players."
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