WEST WINDSOR: Pirates capture sectional tennis

WW-P South advances to Group IV state semifinals

By Justin Feil, Assistant Sports Editor
The West Windsor-Plainsboro South girls tennis team is a bridesmaid no more.

The Pirates won their first Central Jersey Group IV championship since 2000 with a 4-1 win over Montgomery High School at Nassau Racquet Club on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates had lost in the sectional finals in each of the previous two years, including a 2007 loss to MHS.

“It’s good, and I’m glad we got that fourth point too,” said Pirates head coach Carla Crawbuck after her team improved to 15-0. “Now we have to go in and play some really difficult and tough schools.”

The CJ IV champions will face South Jersey IV champion Atlantic City on Wednesday in the Group IV state semifinals. The winner plays in the final later that Wednesday. WW-P South hasn’t been to this point in nearly a decade. They won back-to-back sectionals in 1999 and 2000.

“Last year, we had a good run at it,” Crawbuck said. “They barely lost last year. All the girls are back except the one. We had a very nice freshman come in, and so it was looking good for us. But you don’t take anyone too lightly. This (MHS team) is the No. 1 seed here. They just cruised over Sayreville.”

But against the Pirates, the Cougars only came up with one win though they put up a fight at every spot. Ammu Mandalap earned the first point for the Pirates when she defeated Ayla Rasmussen, 6-2, 6-4, at first singles. The South second doubles team of Amanda Stanton and Mallory Wang beat Taylor D’Agostino and Julia Shen, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2). Last year, they were the final spot done in a 3-2 loss to East Brunswick in the sectional final.

“They stepped up to the plate last year, but they just couldn’t do it,” Crawbuck said. “I was happy we did that well and got that far (last year). I was happy they won today.”

Rachel Pierson then earned the Cougars’ lone point by topping her tournament doubles partner, June Lee, 6-3, 6-1, but MHS’ title chances were short-lived as Lesley Norris wrapped up her third singles win over Charlotte Sclapari, 6-3, 6-2, to clinch the team title.

“Third singles, it would have been a tall order to beat Lesley,” said MHS head coach John Arnold after his team fell to 15-2. “She’s gone four years without losing a match. That’s a tough act. She played her long, that’s for sure and relatively competitive.”

The Pirates earned their fourth point in the best match of the day, a back-and-forth match at first doubles in which Sahana Jayaraman and Larissa Lee Lum persevered in three sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, over the Cougars’ Rachel Casey and Julia Goldman.

“With first doubles coming as close as they did, and second doubles losing in a tiebreaker (in the second set), I have no complaints,” Arnold said. “I would have liked to have more go our way, but that’s the way it goes.”