CHERRY HILL—The Egg Harbor Township High School girls tennis team’s run through the South Jersey Group IV playoffs ended with a tough loss in the final to Cherry Hill East on Tuesday afternoon.
The Eagles, however, believe the experience they gained from advancing one round farther in the playoffs this season will help propel them even farther next year.
“We’re thrilled to have gotten to the finals this year,” second-year Eagles coach Alene Hartman said. “I think our girls played really well. Cherry Hill (East) is always a tough team, but there is definitely an improvement over last year’s team. And we’re still a young team, so I think the future’s bright for us.”
The top-seeded Cougars defeated the second-seeded Eagles 5-0. In first singles, Stephanie Yanosov defeated Emily Manzo 6-2, 6-0 to earn Cherry Hill its first point.
Rebekah Colacot and Sarah Jang defeated Anne Mkrtchyan and Gabbrielle Guimapang 6-2, 6-0 at first doubles, before Pallavi Goculdas defeated Sarah Phung 6-2, 6-4 at second singles to clinch the title for the Cougars.
The Eagles advanced to the finals this year after losing in the semifinals to Cherry Hill East last season 3-2.
The Eagles, ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11, are now 14-1. They defeated third-seeded Lenape 3-2 to advance to the final. Cherry Hill East, the No. 1 team in The Press Elite 11, is 19-0.
Junior second singles player Phung went undefeated in the Cape-Atlantic League last season and is currently undefeated in the CAL this season and has a 14-1 overall record.
Phung said she was happy with her team’s effort on its way to the finals.
“I think we fought,” she said. “I was watching the other girls during my match, and I could see they were putting up a pretty big fight. We knew that Cherry Hill is a big team, and because they beat us last year, we were gonna give it to them.
“I think everyone pushed it and gave it all they could, and I’m really proud of everyone for that.”
The key to advancing to the final, according to Hartman, was consistency from players like Phung and first singles player Manzo.
Another key was the leadership and influence of the Eagles’ lone senior, Mkrtchyan.
“She’s been the heart of this team, really,” Hartman said. “She’s won the CAL doubles tournament twice, and she has a lot of experience in these pressure situations. With her graduating, that’s going to be a huge hole in our lineup, but I hope that everyone else can step up and take her place.”
Mkrtchyan said she has noticed improvement each year she has been with the team.
“As players we’ve grown a lot,” she said. “We lost a couple players to graduation, but this year we made sure to work even harder to make up for it.”
A player the Eagles will rely upon the next two seasons is sophomore Manzo.
Manzo has dominated most of her competition in the CAL, but faced a tough challenge against Cherry Hill East’s Stephanie Yanosov on Tuesday.
“They’re a really good team overall, and every player on their team is really talented,” she said. “They definitely deserve the one spot (in the playoffs).”
The experience of losing to a talented team like Cherry Hill East, she said, should benefit the Eagles in the future.
“Our experience last year helped us get farther this year,” she said. “I love my team, and I’ll think we’ll do even better next year.”
At Cherry Hill East
Singles—Stephanie Yanosov d. Emily Manzo 6-2, 6-0; Pallavi Goculdas d. Sarah Phung 6-2, 6-4; Natalie Yanosov d. Tiffany Trivers 6-2, 6-1.
Doubles—Rebekah Colacot-Sarah Jang d. Anne Mkrtchyan-Gabbrielle Guimapang 6-2, 6-0; Sanjana Doshi-Mari Kimenker d. Asia Lackland-Christine Vu 6-1, 6-3.
Records—Cherry Hill East 19-0; EHT 14-1.