The Mainland Regional High School girls tennis teams traditionally thrives off its doubles ladder.
Two seasons ago, the Cape-Atlantic League Individual doubles tournament final featured both of Mainland’s teams. Then those teams clinched crucial points as the Mustangs won its first South Jersey Group IV title 3-2 over Eastern.
This year’s doubles teams are having similar success. Mainland’s doubles teams were the only area teams to reach the prestigious South Jersey Interscholastic Coaches Tournament quarterfinals, held at Vineland and Millville on Saturday and Sunday.
“Our teams tends to be deep, which helps,” fifth-year coach Kathy Yohe said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “From second to seventh, there’s not a real big difference. It was just who beat who during the challenge matches.”
Junior Haley Krachman and sophomore Rachel Rha (11-1) were the only area team to make the SJICT semifinals. The duo upset Moorestown’s No. 1 team of Kelsey Mercer and Julia Gips 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. The semnifinals will be held after the state tournament.
Mainland’s second doubles team of junior Katie Rha, Rachel’s older sister, and sophomore Cassidy Scott (11-1) fell to Haddon-field’s No. 1 team in the quarterfinals.
“I think that doubles is our strong point,” Krachman, a 16-year old Linwood resident said. “We’re pretty stable, but winning against Moorestown gave us more confidence, because now we feel like we can face anyone, since Moorestown is so good.”
“I don’t think a lot of people knew how good of a team we were and I don’t think we were aware, either. So, we were really happy,
so was our coach, and I think a lot of other schools were really impressed as well,” Rha, a 15-year old Linwood resident, added.
Now the doubles teams hope they can lead Mainland (7-1) as the South Jersey Group IV tournament begins today. Sixth-seeded Mainland will host No. 11 Washington Township at 2 p.m.
In order to make a deep run, the singles ladder will also will need to perform at a high level, which it has shown as of late. When Krachman and Rha lost a three-set match to Ocean City on Sept. 12, senior Nicole Fahringer (9-1) and junior Elise Natchigall stepped up at first and third singles to take the match 3-2. The win helped create a three-way tie for the CAL American Conference between Mainland, Ocean City and Egg Harbor Township.
Mainland’s only loss came to Egg Harbor Township early in the season, but its full singles lineup wasn’t available. Since then it has won six straight. Sophomore Lily Glassberg, is holding down the second singles position. Glassberg played second doubles last year.
Mainland is now ranked No. 8 in the Press Elite 11, while Ocean City moves into the 9th spot.
“I don’t think people expected us to do this well (so far), so that’s nice since we only have three returning players on varsity,” Yohe said. “Our goal is to win the conference and South Jerseys. It always is. Did I really think we could (before now), not really. But I feel like a lot of the teams this year seem to be more even, especially from being at the SJICT and seeing some of the teams. I think we have a chance, I hope. When we won it two years ago, it was because of the doubles, and most teams who do well, have strong doubles.”
South Jersey Interscholastic Coaches Tournament
Singles standouts Sacred Heart junior Amanda Goff, Our Lady of Mercy Academy senior Bridget Dandrea and Ocean City senior Gabby DuBruille all reached the Round of 16 at the prestigious tournament.
Goff fell to 12-3 with a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Moorestown’s second singles player Shelby Burke, while Dandrea (13-2) lost to Williamstown’s first singles Brittany Reedman 6-0, 6-1. DuBruille lost 6-2, 6-1 to Woodbury’s No. 1 Maddie Graziani and is now 9-3.
Ocean County Tournament
Barnegat topped the local teams in the team scoring with 16 points for fourth place. Southern Regional and Pinelands Regional tied for ninth place and Lacey Township was 12th. Barnegat’s Anna Prestera (19-3) placed third in the first-singles flight and Colleen Anderson was third at second singles.Third-singles player Marlena Brazill took fourth. Southern’s Racquel Sharkey and Fran Castoria were fourth in the second-doubles flight.
Toms River North, the No. 4 team in the Elite 11, won.
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