For the first time in program history, the girls of Hunter are New York City tennis champions.
The Hawks captured their first ever PSAL “A” Division title with an exciting 3-2 victory over Bronx Science in the city finals at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“I’m so incredibly proud of the girls and how hard they fought. It’s a testament to how well they prepared and how hard they work in honing their craft and skills,” said Hunter head coach Mannix Cheng. “To win the first one in school history is a special achievement, especially in a league like ours where there are so many good teams and talented players. It’s never easy.”
And the final against the Wolverines of Bronx Science was nothing but easy. The two evenly-matched teams battled across five courts, and like a lot of team tennis matches, it would come down to one court after the two teams traded wins to bring the overall score to 2-2 after the first four flights finished.
At second singles, senior Sophia Luo won the first set and raced out to a 5-1 lead in the second set with the city championship on the line. She would see that lead slip down to 5-3, but regained her composure, and served out the match to clinch the title for her team.
Hunter senior Sophia Luo clinched her team’s city championship
“Sophia has been such a leader of the team throughout the season, and she really stepped into that leadership role beautifully. She even admitted to me that she was a bit nervous that it came down to her match but she handled it so well. She remained present in the moment and it was amazing to see.”
Prior to Luo’s clinching victory, Ava Li won her first singles match 6-3, 6-1, and Sophia Chi-Chen won 6-3, 6-3 at second singles to round out the scoring for Hunter. Bronx Science’s Lillian Flynn & Sydney Siskind won 6-1, 6-2 at first doubles, while Amanda Barnkow & Annika Richard were 6-4, 7-5 victors at second doubles.
Ava Li won her match at first singles to help lead Hunter
The historic Hunter victory will be the last match coached by Cheng, who told his team after the win that he would be stepping down as the girls’ tennis head coach. He leaves the program with its first ever city title, but for Cheng and his team, the wins and losses are never the top priority.
“The only goal I really set for the team is to grow and keep improving throughout the season, and really enjoy playing tennis,” he said. “Part of my coaching philosophy is not to set goals and expectations on far we want to go. It’s to instill a growth mindset and continue growing as the season goes on. I will miss the team. It’s such a wonderful group to be around; not only as tennis players but as human beings. I always hear from other coaches about how polite and supportive our girls are. I will always remember winning the title, but even more so I’ll remember how great a group of tennis players and people this team had.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org