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The student news site of Bernards High School

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Girls tennis captures sectional championship

The+girls+tennis+team+took+home+the+sectional+title+for+North+2%2C+Group+2.
Gianna Galesi
The girls tennis team took home the sectional title for North 2, Group 2.

On October 17, girl’s varsity tennis won its Sectional Finals in a tight match against West Morris Mendham (3-2). 

After drawing the first seed—a preliminary ranking that players receive before a tournament—the girls had a first-round bye. This allowed them to advance without actually competing, as well as giving them a home court advantage for the entire tournament. The team later took on quarter-finals against Madison and semi-finals against Vorhees to earn themselves a spot in the finals. 

The girls value team chemistry and attribute it to their success this season. At away matches, the team would often stop to get food afterwards, which was a fun bonding experience for the girls. “[Chemistry] was essential for those of us who play Doubles positions,” says captain Julianna Danial ‘24.

Julianna describes how as team captain, she was able to “[create] a fun and positive atmosphere for the team…we had great morale and were always excited for our next match.” The girls always warmed up together and played music to prepare them for their matches. Danial says, “We always went into matches with a positive mindset and played to win.”

Head Coach St. Ours, who has been accompanied by Coach Phil Mahlik for the past two years, also describes how the team’s familiarity with sectionals this year equipped the girls with an edge of prior experience. “A majority of the team already played in the finals the previous year,” she explains, “so that helped settle quite a bit of nerves.” 

They began preparing months in advance, with practice several times a week beginning in mid-August. However, the team faced attendance issues early on, with many of the girls deciding to skip practice. “Coach Mahlik and I had a team meeting [during preseason] in which we expressed the importance of committing to the team” St. Ours says, “we then asked the girls what they thought they were capable of achieving this season, [and] a number of the girls thought we were capable of winning the sectional title. I agreed by saying we had the potential to win.”

The word “potential” is intrinsic to her approach to coaching: “Nothing is guaranteed,” St. Ours suggests, “You can have all the talent but if the commitment, discipline, and resilience are not there you may not have the success you had hoped for.” It seems, however, that the girls tennis team truly managed to tap into this potential this season.

“Both Coach St. Ours and Coach Mahlik helped with our success this season,” says Julianna. While Coach St. Ours made drills for the girls to improve their gameplay and reflect on what they could work on, Coach Mahlik would create strategies for them to win their matches.

As sectional champions, the girls moved on to State Semifinals and lost against Demarest (1-4) at Mercer County Park. Nevertheless, girls tennis performed quite successfully all around this season!

“Winning the sectional title, which Bernards had not done since 2006,” has been Coach St. Ours’ proudest moment this year, “I knew we had the talent, but we had to be committed, but in the hard work, and execute which we did.”

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