Holmdel denied again in Tournament of Champions finals

first_imgBy MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent The NJSIAA Tournament of Champions (TOC) in girls’ tennis was a case of déjà vu. Holmdel High School and Millburn High School, two undefeated teams, squared off for the ultimate piece of hardware a year after the same matchup went in favor of Millburn.The Hornets again came up short in their bid for a TOC crown. Despite taking two of three singles matches, Holmdel dropped the final to Millburn, 3-2, with a doubles sweep proving to be the deciding factor.Millburn grabbed the early lead when Stephanie Schrage, the state singles champion, posted a 6-1, 6-1 victory over fellow junior Brianna Gibbs of the Hornets. In second doubles, Millburn’s Anna Mandel and Elizabeth Gray beat Jaimee Ratkoski and Natalie Cipriano, 6-4, 7-5.Millburn, which now has gone three seasons without a loss, secured the decisive point at first doubles. Sydney Zirlin and Isabella Waung, who won the state title in doubles, endured a tight second set against Holmdel’s Emily Kong and Vicky Vought to win, 6-1, 7-6 (5). Kong and Vought had a set point with a 5-4 lead, but Millburn’s pair rallied from behind to force the tiebreaker.“It always comes down to doubles,” head coach Chuck Chelednik often says. The TOC finals was a case in point.“My doubles got better as the year went on, and they played together only about half the year,” Chelednik said of Holmdel’s pairings for the final round of the TOC. “They made strides. They definitely improved. But Millburn, especially in doubles, is very good.”In fact, Chelednik thought both of his doubles teams played better against Millburn than they did in Holmdel’s TOC semifinal opposite Newark Academy.“I think overall we got to see in Millburn some good doubles players,” Chelednik said.The Hornets had better luck in singles play. Sophomore Alexandra Wojciak put a point on the board for Holmdel by toppling Alexandra Pritsker, 6-4, 6-2, at second singles. Rita Vought, also a sophomore at Holmdel, won the third singles match vs. Joanna Atwater, 2-6, 6-3, 10-6. Holmdel advanced to the TOC with wins over Manasquan High School in the Central Jersey Group II finals and Ramapo High School in the last leg of Group II.Following the loss to Millburn, Holmdel shut out Monmouth Regional High School and finished the season with a record of 22-1.With another successful year for the Hornets in the books, the team, which perennially competes for postseason titles, should be in the mix next season.Holmdel’s second consecutive appearance in the TOC finals is a testament to the girls, Chelednik said.“We’ve been consistent over the last several years, and that has really helped us in the Monmouth County Tournament and Shore Conference Tournament, and subsequently in states,” the coach said.Chelednik noted that Holmdel will bring more experience to the court in a year.All of the Hornets who competed in the TOC finals will be back, and a couple promising freshmen are coming into the program.last_img

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