Late wins allow GFS racquetmen to edge host GA, 4-3

by Tom Utescher
Posted 3/23/21

It's fortunate that daylight savings time went into effect on March 14, because if it hadn't dusk would have descended upon almost half of the tennis matches played at Germantown Academy three days …

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Late wins allow GFS racquetmen to edge host GA, 4-3

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It's fortunate that daylight savings time went into effect on March 14, because if it hadn't dusk would have descended upon almost half of the tennis matches played at Germantown Academy three days later.

In a contest that was the season opener for both the host Patriots and the visiting Tigers of Germantown Friends School, the two sides split the first four matches to be completed, for a 2-2 overall score. The last three would go on a good while longer, with each bout extending to either a full third set or a super tiebreaker played instead of a third set.

The Patriots gained a 3-2 edge with a victory at second singles, but GFS drew even with a win at fourth doubles and then prevailed 4-3 in the final team score as Tigers number one Rishi Cohen overcame fellow junior Jason Wang, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).

GA is led once more by Guadalupe Prince, who has been head coach of the boys' tennis squad since 2017. She is also a club tennis instructor, and during the girls' scholastic season in the fall she coaches the team at Gwynedd Mercy Academy.

At GFS, longtime mentor Justin Gilmore is taking some time off, and stepping into the role of head coach is Chris Booth, who has taught and coached tennis at many levels over the years. His daughter, Joanna, began to play for the GFS varsity as an eighth-grader, and she went to on join the team at Amherst College.

During the second week of March, the area was graced with several days with temperatures in the mid-60's, ideal for early-season tennis if the teams had been able to begin play. By the time the players stepped onto the GA courts last Wednesday, the relatively balmy weather of the previous week seemed a distant memory. Any hint of first greening in the trees vanished as buds withdrew back into themselves in response to the chiller conditions.

Following the COVID-cancelled 2020 season, the Patriots and Tigers are both fielding young teams in 2021, with only three seniors between them. GFS had settled upon sophomore Jackson Zucker as its third singles player, but he was not able to play last Wednesday due to a Corona quarantine of the 10th-grade class at Germantown Friends. Coach Booth added that junior Jacob Morse, normally a doubles player, had moved up to fill the vacancy.

Morse obviously adjusted very well, posting scores of 6-1, 6-0 as he topped GA freshman Max Baer.

Germantown Friends claimed another early victory in a first doubles match featuring four juniors. Here, visitors Asher Smith-Frank and Alex Sanderson overcame Dylan Jeck and Zack Kotik of Germantown Academy, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.

For GA, the third doubles team of freshman Chase Goldoor and junior Luca Diem breezed to victory in a pair of 6-0 sets, facing the Tigers' junior tandem of Phineas Sher and Caleb Ash. The Pats also prevailed one rung up the doubles ladder, with a 6-3, 6-2 win in the second flight claimed by juniors Kwabena Ampomah and Cory Miller over freshman Gavi Gilbert-Tractman and junior Gabe Klaris of the visiting side.

There were split sets at second singles, where GA freshman Armon Meinstein opened with a 7-6 (7-3) win and GFS senior Noah Eisenstein took the second set, 6-3. There were so many long points here that it was decided to play a super tiebreaker instead of a full third set. Here, it was still close, with Meinstein pulling out a 10-7 victory for the match.

Now ahead 3-2 in the team score, the Patriots needed to win just one of the two ongoing matches to carry the day.

"Not so fast!" growled the Tigers. After all, both of the matches still in play had gone to a third set.

The two seniors in Germantown Academy's line-up, Thomas DiChaiara and Sam Fortunato, had captured the first set at fourth singles, 6-3, but then they dropped the second, 2-6, to Wil Trullo and Levi Rudick, both GFS freshmen. The third set proceeded more evenly until the score reached 6-6, then the two Tigers won the tiebreaker, 7-4, to level the team score at 3-3.

This left the two juniors at number one singles. The Patriots' Wang made a 6-2 debut in the opening round, then his guest, Cohen, scrapped back to snag the second set, 7-5. Neither would give way in the third stanza, with the bout finally ending with a 7-4 tiebreaker in Cohen's favor.

GFS had emerged with a victory, but this non-league contest had provided great competition for both teams at the start of the season, something that should serve them well in the weeks ahead.

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