The combination of competition and experience has been driving girl’s tennis success this fall.
The team has enjoyed a strong start to the 2016 season, going 10-0 following a 3-2 win over Manchester Township in the second round of the South, Group 2 Tournament on Monday at Wood Park.
“We know what we have to do this year,” first singles player Tori Robinson said. “It’s been stressed that we want to do something big this year. We came into the season ready. We’ve been conditioning, we’ve been taking private lessons and we all want it.”
Cinnaminson earned the #4 seed in the tournament, knocking off #13 Glassboro 4-1 in the opening round. Manchester was the #5 seed.
“We had a pretty important stretch last week with New Egypt (division), first round against Glassboro and Holy Cross (division),” head coach Matt Perekupka said. “They had three matches of high pressure and just did their job today. I’m very proud.”
The Pirates play in the sectional semifinals against #1 Haddonfield Friday afternoon.
“We just want to go in there with a strong mindset,” Robinson said. “We’re going to go in there confident, see what happens, and just try to get it done like we’ve been playing all year.”
No matter what happens in the playoffs, the Pirates picked up the program’s biggest win in six years when they defeated Holy Cross 3-2 last week.
“It was a huge win. It’s something we’ve worked towards since I started here three years ago,” Perekupka said.
“I have a lot of respect for their coaches. They are a good program. It’s always been close. It just finally went our way last week. It just shows that we are coming along as a program and reaching our goals.”
It was the first victory against their Freedom Division rivals since 2010. Cinnaminson is in the driver’s seat for the crown.
“So exciting,” Robinson said. “This hasn’t been done since 2010. We want jackets so bad.”
Prior to the semifinal playoff match with Haddonfield, Cinnaminson will host Rancocas Valley and Willingboro in regular season contests.
“We know what Haddonfield’s program is like,” Perekupka said. “They’re top notch in terms of ability. You can’t play the match on paper. You have to go there and play the best match you can.”
The Pirates have 25 girls in the program this year, by far the largest number in years, and the depth is making for some stiff competition.
“It helps with the competition,” Robinson said. “Everyone has to stay on their game because there’s someone else ready to replace them. We have strong players one through 25. Everyone picks each other up each day.”
Perekupka held a slew of challenge matches during the preseason for the seven spots on varsity, but has stressed to the girls that the competition for spots never ends.
“It’s nice because for the first time in a while we have options. We’re not just having the top seven play and there’s nothing keeping them honest to keep their positions. Now we have girls on JV who are very capable of playing varsity.”
“The girls know they have to be on their game or have someone looking over their shoulder to potentially take their spots. It’s a good problem for a coach to have when you have too many girls to fill seven spots.”
Robinson knew coming into the season that her experience from previous years on the squad would help her take control of a leadership role.
“Tennis is a mental game,” Robinson said. “You have to keep your confidence. Tennis is a game where you’re never out of it. It’s all mental, you’ve got to keep working and play your game.”
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