by Tom Utescher
The day after Easter temperatures climbed into the 80’s, and it seemed to affect the Quakers of Penn Charter more than their guests from Friends Central as PC’s tennis team fell to the visiting Phoenix, 5-2.
Charter’s regular number two player, Jason Weisbaum, was away on a college visit, so fellow senior Jay Schaeffer bumped up to the second spot and sophomore Gautam Nagaraj, normally a JV performer, played third singles. On the other hand, the Quakers won a match by forfeit right from the get-go as Friends Central was unable to field a fourth doubles combo.
Coming into the contest, the only loss for each squad had come at the hands of La Salle High School, which beat PC in a regular match and topped FC at the Mayor’s Cup Tournament back in early March. Otherwise, Penn Charter was 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Inter-Ac League, while defending Friends Schools League champion Friends Central was 2-0 in the FSL and 5-0 against all comers.
Friends Central sophomore Sam Silver took two 6-1 sets from PC’s Schaeffer at second singles, and in the third position Nagaraj lost to visiting junior Ilan Dreyfuss, 6-2, 6-3.
The two number ones were up to the challenge of competing in the prematurely warm weather, and played the longest match of the afternoon.
Quakers senior Sean Rojo captured the opening set, 6-2, but Phoenix junior Declan Hahn rallied to take the second round, 6-3.
At this juncture, Friends Central had already clinched the team victory, so it was decided to play a 10-point super-tiebreaker instead of a full third set. The issue was still not easily resolved, as Rojo went up 9-6 in the breaker and Hahn came back to level the tally at 9-9. The Charter number one edged ahead again and then wrapped up the segment, 11-9, when he was able to come to the net for an overhead slam.
Rojo will be moving on to St. Joseph University next year, and colleges will doubtless be keeping an eye on his younger sister, Kristine, a freshman who played number one for Girls Inter-Ac League champion Baldwin School last fall.
Dave Durst is the only other senior on the PC team who’s finalized his college plans. The Princeton-bound Durst teamed up with fellow senior Mike Brown at first doubles in the Friends Central match, but they succumbed to sophomore Raaj Singh and senior Wes Kaminsky of the Phoenix in two 6-3 sets.
In a freshmen-only second doubles contest visitors Greg Lynn and Max Ginsburg won a 7-4 tiebreaker to take the first set from Ben Richards and Geoff Zlobinsky of the Quakers. Lynn and Ginsberg were ahead 2-0 in the second when one of the PC players had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury.
At third doubles, FC sophomores Thomas Fakharzadah and Andrew Shoemaker notched a 6-1, 6-3 win over sophomore Matt Brown (Mike’s brother) and freshman Ben Plotnick.