Hunterdon Central’s Girls Tennis Team: A Force to be Reckoned With


Photo by Ava Delauro

Central’s girls varsity tennis team

One sport that’s been gaining lots of recognition lately is girls’ tennis. This is especially true given the recent 2021 Olympics games, where tennis player Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron and made her debut after being one of the most talked about athletes of the past few months. This popularity seems to have reached Hunterdon Central, where the team is preparing for their beginning matches. After weeks of practice and intense training regimen, the team is full swing into the fall season. 

The Central tennis team was frequently short handed until recently. A few years ago there was a variety of promising, strong players on the team. However, they were mostly seniors. Many of them went on to play tennis in college. Former varsity player Rylie Dalgauer, for example, currently gives private lessons to some of the current players on the team. There have been instances where Central has had to forfeit matches due to a shortage of members. Now, Central has a full, motivated team ready to give their all. 

This year there are 33 girls on the team, consisting of 13 new players and 20 veteran players. Some of those players coming from the 9th grade are Maia LiSanti 3rd singles Varsity, Katelyn Covucci JV, Aria Rao JV, Lizzie Bruhn JV, Tatiana Hlinka JV, Amy St. Miklosy JV, Mehar Jetly JV, Maddie Lagola JV, and Riya Gupta JV. As for players who joined through 10th-12th, there is Julia Zito JV, Ryan Mierzejwski JV, Abby Ferguson JV, and Alina Patel JV. 

The returning players (not including the seniors) are Elle Catanzarite 1st singles Varsity, Brianna Campbell 2nd doubles V, Ashley Ferraez V, Reena Verma JV, Julia Andresson JV, Keira Helfrich JV, Natalie Reich JV, Mehek Ragoowan JV, Shreya Bodanki JV, Jasmine Likier JV, Riya Shah JV, Sophia Castillo JV and Amelia Granato.

Highlighting their final year at Central are the 2022 Seniors. 2nd Singles on Varsity and one of the four team captains is Karolina Lankamer. She’s known for her consistent rallies and amazing winning record. 1st doubles on Varsity is Sereia Marsh, who did not lose a single match this year and maintained a 9-0 record. She has strong overall capabilities, especially at the net. First doubles on Varsity, Ava DeLauro, is one of the 4 team coaches. She’s very welcoming on the team and has a killer forehand. She also has strong net plays. There are 4 seniors who do not have a solid position but are still on Varsity. Those players are Andrea Arpastean, who has strong plays and determination during matches, Catherine Dolan, who specializes in net plays while also having strong ground strokes, Sarah Berger, who is working on having a strong serve while

also learning to poach at net, and finally Effy Ainsha, who has one of the most unique playing styles on the team, using backspin on all of her hits and a variety of slices. 

The girls practiced 4-5 times a week, for up to 2-3 hours. After stretching and running a lap around the 3 upper courts, they dived straight into live hitting and match plays. Over the summer they started doing conditioning, which included running up to a mile and doing various intense stretching for up to an hour. Despite the summer heat, the majority of players came to all the practices, with some even seeking private lessons from Coach Daly. 

On Friday, the junior varsity team traveled to North Hunterdon for their first match of the season. After a long, challenging match, Central won with a five out of six match record. Varsity played at home, beating North with a five out of five record. This accounted for Central’s first overall win of the season. 

On Monday, Hunterdon Central played against Hillsborough High School. The match was a home game, and Varsity pulled through with an overall win, beating Hillsborough three out of the five matches. Junior Varsity traveled for the second time this week, unfortunately losing their matches, but still giving their best efforts. 

Last Tuesday, Central had a match against Gill Junior Varsity, and had their first home game of the season. They won five out of the five matches, making a strong comeback. Varsity also had their first away game, winning five out of five matches. 

After a very successful week with overall wins and minimal losses, this season is starting strong. Look out for the girls’ tennis team, because this season is looking to be something special.