Girls’ Tennis Grows in Talent and Numbers

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December 30, 2022

Photo courtesy of girls’ tennis team. The team honors their four seniors during their “Senior Day” match.

Since last season when the team went 3-11, the Cinnaminson High School girls’ tennis team has undergone many changes. Not only has Mrs. Julie Leetz replaced Mr. Matthew Perekupka as assistant coach, but a recent explosion in numbers has given the team an abundance of fresh talent. 

Last year, the team had 11 girls; the team now has 26 girls eager for time on the court. Mrs. Jennifer Alvarado, head coach of the CHS tennis team, largely attributed the growth in numbers to word of mouth.

Alvarado also referenced the general atmosphere of the team, explaining how it helped the team to grow.  

“The culture that Mr. Perekupka and I had last year, just having a team that gets along and is kind of like family,” Alvarado said. “We’re trying to keep it a low stress environment- just having fun and learning to play tennis… but at the same time being competitive. I think that kind of rubbed off on people.”

Senior Emma Schrier, one of the captains on the team this year, explained how this year’s larger team has changed practice. 

“It’s definitely a lot more collaborative because we only have so many courts,“ Schrier said. “So we have to play more doubles, and play as teams more, but I think it helps to get to know each other and to help everyone grow as a team.”

Alvarado expressed that the growth of the team is especially important because tennis is not as accessible at a young age as other fall sports like soccer or field hockey.

“We don’t have a middle school team – we’re one of the only sports that doesn’t have a middle school team,” Alvarado said.  “We don’t have a feeder program, a town club team, so you know if someone wants to learn tennis they have to do it on their own time and get private lessons. So that costs money, and I feel like that affects us.”

For some, the lack of experience wasn’t a deterrent – in fact, this drew some freshmen to the team. 

“Tennis I knew that everyone who was starting off was new, because you didn’t really play tennis in middle school, so like the idea that’s like ‘I’m at the same level as every other freshman who was coming on the team,” Schrier said. 

The team will graduate seniors Cate Harding, Olivia Parisi, Emma Schrier, and Molly Shearer.  Junior Grace Kennedy explained how this will be a tough loss, as Schrier and Harding are first and second singles. 

“I’ve become really close with the upperclassmen so I’ll miss them, ” Kennedy said.  “I think that Emma and Cate are both great leaders so we’ll definitely miss them next year.”

Although Kennedy expressed how much the seniors will be missed, she showed a lot of optimism for next year.

“I guess I’m looking forward to being the leader of the team and stuff, and I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people join tennis freshman year and they’ve grown so much and I’m excited to see that next year,” Kennedy said.

The team currently has 11 juniors, which Alvarado says she sees a lot of promise in.

Recently, the second doubles team (consisting of Sadie Bertholf and Nicole Jones) advanced to the finals in the BCSL tournament after wins over Delran and Northern Burlington.

While the growth in numbers and interest has led to a bigger team, this has also created a bit of a problem when it comes to matches. 

“Other teams in our division do not have a JV… We’ve had a team that has one JV player,” Alvarado said. Now I have 19 JV players sitting there, not doing anything, not playing in a match – so they play each other. That’s the weakness – it’s that there are no widespread JV teams across the board in our BCSL,” Alvarado said.

The team wrapped up their season with a win against Delran leaving their record standing at 6-6.