Player to Watch: Kyra Bergmann, Beacon (Credit all photos to Damion Reid/PSAL.org)
Beacon will be out this season to defend its city title from a year ago, and continue a run that has seen it become a fixture in the PSAL finals. One of the players who was key to the team’s success last year and will be even more so this fall is Kyra Bergmann (pictured above).
The junior, who played primarily third singles, will be moving up in the lineup this season as Beacon’s first singles player from last year, Victoria Sec, has graduated. Bergmann will move into the second singles spot, and is ready to shoulder more of the load for her team this season.
“I believe I’m ready to play second this year. I played first and second in some team matches last year, and so I feel I have some more experience doing that,” Bergmann said. “That makes me more confident moving up in the lineup. By moving up, I will be playing against harder competition. I have higher expectations for myself this season.”
Bergmann compiled a fantastic sophomore season, going undefeated in both the regular season and the playoffs for her team, while also reaching the finals of the PSAL Individual tournament, where she lost to Cardozo’s Daniela Hernandez in a hard-fought three-set match.
“The tournament was really competitive. I played against a lot of girls who I usually play in USTA Eastern Section tournaments,” said Bergmann. “I was a little nervous playing a full two-out of three set match in front of my high school coach. I was definitely upset after I lost because I didn’t qualify for the New York State Championships. But I’m going to use that loss as motivation this season, because I really want to represent my school and the PSAL at the state championships.”
Bergmann understands the types of expectations that come with playing for Beacon and it is something that her and her teammates really embrace, using it to elevate their games and continue to get better.
“I feel very proud playing for one of the best high school tennis teams out there,” Bergmann said. “I always feel some sort of pressure while playing team matches; I believe that all my teammates feel the same. We always want to win and with that comes the pressure of not letting the team down. Last year, we had a very successful season by beating Bronx Science in the PSAL and the Mayor’s Cup finals. There is a lot of pressure to win both tournaments again this year, but if we play as confidently as we did last year I believe that we can do it again.”
If Beacon is going to repeat this season, Bergmann will play a major role in its success. The strength of her game comes from the baseline where she has consistent groundstrokes, especially with her forehand. She has had a busy tennis summer, working on her game, which included playing her first ITF tournament down in Ecuador.
“I trained in an Ecuadorian tennis camp for a week before the tournament. It was incredible,” Bergmann said. “The tennis club was near the Andes Mountains, and I had to learn how to adapt to playing in higher altitudes. The air is so thin there and the balls go a lot faster. I had to change my swings, court position and footwork and it really improved my game.”
The biggest thing she wanted to work on this summer was the mental side of her game. She says she sometimes has a hard time closing out sets and matches, but playing down at the USTA Zonals at Wake Forest University, she put an emphasis on closing out her matches, using her teammates support to pump her up.
“Having my teammates cheering me on the whole time made me feel more comfortable on the court, and I started playing better,” said Bergmann.
With an improved mental game and the valuable experiences she gained while traveling to play tennis this summer, Bergmann will be one of the best players in New York City this season, and will be a major component of Beacon’s quest for a championship repeat.
2017 Teams to Watch
►Beacon: Beacon (pictured above) has dominated the landscape in New York City tennis for a number of years now, and that should be no different this fall. The girls have been in the PSAL finals the last seven years, winning the city title in six of those years, including last year’s triumph over Bronx Science, in which it swept all five courts. Despite losing top singles player Victoria Sec, Beacon is still loaded with singles talent and returns most of its doubles players to once again make it a team to be reckoned with.
►Bronx Science: The Bronx Science Wolverines are the only team other than Beacon to win a city title in the last seven years, winning the championship in 2015, and will be on the lookout for some revenge after last year’s defeat in the PSAL finals. It will bring back the bulk of its roster, including Perene Wang, Christina Huynh & Sofie Levine. With those three girls leading the way at the top, Bronx Science should once again be one of the top teams in all of New York City this fall.
►Cardozo: A run to the semifinals for Cardozo last season was an improvement from quarterfinal runs in the previous two seasons, and look for the Lady Judges to build on that success this season. The squad returns its top three singles players from a year ago, Katherine Kachkarov at first singles, last season’s PSAL singles champion Daniela Hernandez (pictured right) at second singles and Emily Moczulski in the third spot. While it is losing three of its four starting doubles players, the talented and deep singles lineup assures Cardozo will be one of the toughest teams to play all season.
►Townsend Harris: The Townsend Harris team could be one that sneaks up on a lot of teams this season as its young core enters 2017 with another year of experience under their belt. Liana Weitzman at first singles and Tseten Lhamo at first doubles will be the lone starters who graduated, and while that will create a void in the lineup, the Hawks of Townsend Harris will have a talented singles lineup spearheaded by sophomores Rachel Zhang and India Lott. While still a relatively young team, the Townsend Harris has the potential to be one of the top teams in New York City.
►Brooklyn Tech: Brooklyn Tech lost a heartbreaking match to Cardozo in the PSAL quarterfinals last year, a 3-2 defeat by the slimmest of margins, and will return its entire starting lineup from that team which makes it a threat to do damage this season. Anchored by its top two singles players, Chelsea Williams and Nicole Semenov, the Engineers are one of the most talented teams in all of New York City. Alina Abramoff rounds out the singles lineup, and with experienced doubles players finishing out the team’s roster, Brooklyn Tech is poised to make a deeper run in the PSAL playoffs this time around.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org