Sophomore Emma Clark reaches out for a backhand during her second singles match last Tuesday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Following a number of successful outings against non-league tennis opponents, Germantown Friends launched its 2011 Friends Schools League  season with back-to-back bouts last Monday and Tuesday.

In the first of the two home court contests, the Tigers clawed out a 3-2 victory over Moorestown Friends, a team they hadn’t beaten in at least five seasons. Tuesday’s match was not nearly as challenging, with GFS watering down its line-up but still posting a 5-0 shutout against the Academy of the New Church.

The twin wins in the league lifted Germantown’s overall record to 6-1, with lone setback coming against Agnes Irwin. When they faced two traditional Girls Inter-Ac League opponents on this side of the Schuylkill, the Tigers toppled Penn Charter, 6-1, and Germantown Academy, 5-2.

“Even our practices are really competitive this year,” related GFS coach Jessica Smith. “There are a lot of strong girls vying to play the highest position they can on the team.”

By facing Moorestown in last week’s FSL debut, GFS was picking up where it left off at the end of the 2010 season. With the last available spot in the Friends League playoffs up for grabs, the New Jersey squad edged the Tigers, 3-2, ending their season.

Last week, wins at first and second singles helped lay the foundation for a Germantown victory over the Foxes. The Tigers’ scintillating freshman number one, Joanna Booth, turned back the visitors’ top player, and at number two sophomore Olivia Fiechter frolicked, 6-0, 6-0. The third GFS win came at second doubles, where sophomores Hannah Ceisler and Emma Clark triumphed in a pair of 6-1 sets.

The following day Clark and Ceisler were split up and played second and third singles, respectively. Each won 6-0, 6-0 against their ANC opponents, as did the Tigers’ regular first doubles team of senior Haley Abbott and junior Lauren Shinn.

Booth and Fiechter were given the day off, while Bezahler moved up to first singles and cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win. Emma Greenstreet joined forces with Savannah Smith to wrap up the second doubles match, 6-1, 6-0, completing a sweep for GFS.

“Joanna is still undefeated this season,” pointed out Coach Smith, “and so are Emma and Hannah, whether they played singles or together at doubles.”

Describing the assets of her freshman standout, Smith said “She’s got a great forehand and serve, and she’s not afraid to go all over the court. Just her on-court presence is impressive; she has a great deal of confidence.

“It’s kind of inspiring for everyone to have her around,” the coach continued. “In our intra-squad scrimmages and at practice, I think she’s making all the other girls hit harder.”