Boys Tennis Undefeated Preparing for District Playoffs

Duo Jerry Zhang (Left) and Dashiell Nealon (Right) play against team mates Evan Zhang (Top Left) and Peter Novikov post the teams match against Chambersburg on Wednesday, March 10.
Duo Jerry Zhang (Left) and Dashiell Nealon (Right) play against team mates Evan Zhang (Top Left) and Peter Novikov post the teams match against Chambersburg on Wednesday, March 10.
Hannah Smith

On March 13, the State High Boys Tennis team played their opening match of the 2024 season. From the first to the latest game, the team has been able to go undefeated as they prepare for District VI Playoffs.

Head Coach Jane Borden explained how the team is doing this year in an email.

“The team is doing great and they have a record of 8-0,” Borden wrote. “In terms of record, [there is] no difference. However, this team is definitely different in the way they approach things. They are very laid back and almost too easy going.”

Singles player William Liu also expressed a similar statement, noting his confidence in the team to perform well in future matches.

“So this year, we’re undefeated. We beat Cumberland Valley, which we lost to last year,” Liu said. “[…] Our singles ladder definitely got way better. And, our doubles is starting to struggle, but I think if we keep practicing, we’ll do fine in district.”

Although managing to defeat Cumberland Valley was an achievement for the team, there is still work to be done at practices before the upcoming Mid-Penn Conference matches and PIAA State Playoffs.

Duo Evan Zhang (Top Left) and Peter Novikov (Top Right) play against team mates Dashiell Nealon (Left) and Jerry Zhang (Right) after match against Chambersburg. (Hannah Smith)

“So, I think this [making States] will be achieved by dedicating our practice time and using it efficiently,” Liu said. “Recently, we’ve been kind of not focusing in practice, and Jane has been onto us for that, so. We need to continue to focus, even during our less competitive matches, since we’re in Mid-Penn — which is generally not very competitive. So, we need to keep our focus.”

Doubles player Evan Zhang explained the focuses of each practice heading into the second half of their season.

“Usually singles players just play singles drills. […] Everyone outside of varsity usually just does drilling. And I just play doubles the entire time,” Zhang said.

“[…] We definitely utilize our time very well to improve our double skills specifically, because that’s where we’re struggling right now,” Liu added.

A current challenge for the team is instilling a sense of the importance of focusing during practice.

“Our biggest challenge is a lack of urgency right now,” Borden wrote. “The guys seem to think they may be able to coast through this season so it’s been a challenge for the coaches to get them fired up. We are hoping that next week’s matches will get them going on all cylinders!”

Borden expressed her belief in the team’s capabilities for its upcoming matches, noting that there is still a need for the team to be all-in during practices and games.

“The guys have a reasonable chance at going undefeated and winning the Mid-Penn Conference,” Borden wrote. “We will have to play our best throughout the rest of the season. Our matches next week will be the toughest of the season so we will really have to step up.”

Junior and Singles Player Mark Sandow on the court post match against Chambersburg on Wednesday, March 10, 2024. (Hannah Smith)

Along with the undefeated season, the team has fostered a welcoming community. Players can feel the cohesiveness and connections both on and off the tennis court.

“[My favorite part is] probably just, you know, the community; [I have] a lot of friends,” Zhang said. “There’s like, what, like 35 people on the team. It’s good to get to know new people. And, yeah, a lot of my best friends are from the tennis team, which is nice.”

“Boys Tennis is one of the most actively gifted teams in the school, so having these people is definitely one of the best communities, sport communities,” Liu echoed. “The team spirit, overall, is very cohesive. […] During difficult matches, everyone is cheering and everyone wants to win the match. So the team spirit is definitely very strong.”

“We love the way this team has bonded,” Borden described in her email. “Team unity and attitude is at its best. Our captains and others who have stepped up to lead have done a really good job. Seeing the guys as they warm up and prepare for matches [is the best part of each game] — though sometimes they make me nervous, I do love how they get along.”

The next chance to see the team in action will be a next home match on April 15 against Central Dolphin, followed by a match against Hershey on April 17 — the team’s last regular season game. After that, the Boys Tennis team will be heading into post-season championships. To learn more about the schedule, visit this website.

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