By Staff Writer Jerry Yuan
Boys Tennis competed against the Newark Memorial High School Cougars in their first game of the season on March 11 at Fremont Tennis Center. With little notice into the start of the season and only one week of practices to adjust to new social distancing guidelines, the MSJ Warriors triumphed 6-1 against the Cougars.
Despite the Warriors’ victory, the Cougars’ top two singles players gave Freshman Anay Joshi and Freshman Nicholas Tran tough matches. In the end, the Warriors and the Cougars each won one of these matches, with Tran losing 3-6, 2-6 after a hard fought match with countless intense rallies. Joshi’s match was full of volleys, defensive saves, and close points, but he lost only one game, prevailing with a score of 6-1, 6-0. “Joshi performed exceptionally well. He’s a freshman, and it was his first varsity match. He had the toughest match of the day but was mentally tough. He dominated his match and didn’t look back,” Boys Tennis Coach Mike Jan said.
The Warriors went on to win the remaining two singles matches and swept all three doubles matches. Even the closest of these matches was a decisive 6-1, 6-1 victory full of long and exciting rallies by Junior Larry Shi and Sophomore Nolan Kim. “It was a really good experience, especially for the freshmen, since the bulk of our varsity team last year were seniors … and it was a good result to see,” Co-captain Junior Dhruv Jayaram said.
Despite their dominant first performance, the team still hopes to hone certain skills, particularly their net skills in doubles. “High school boys like to smash the ball, but we need to work on finesse,” Jan said. Jayaram said, “Your goal should be to put it away [and] win the point on that ball, … but I see some of the people … playing doubles now hitting the ball right back to the opponent.”
Although they performed well on court, new COVID-19 guidelines have definitely had its impact on the team. In addition to players wearing masks at all times, practices have also become more rally oriented since feeding balls does not comply with social distancing guidelines.
There are no tournaments, NCS, or a Junior Varsity team this season due to COVID-19, but the team still hopes to continue their undefeated two-year streak and finish at the top of the league. However, with both American High School and Irvington High School looking to be challenging opponents this year according to Jan, this will be no easy feat. “We’ll need to play smart and be mentally strong. Patience is the key to victory.” Jan said.
Cover image and gallery images by Staff Writer Jerry Yuan