Varsity Boys Tennis 2018-2019 Season
George School vs The Hill School (Scrimmage)—Wednesday, March 27, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School vs Lenape High School (Scrimmage)—Thursday, March 28, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School vs Holy Ghost Prep. (Scrimmage)—Friday, March 29, 2019 @ 3:30 p.m.
George School vs Peddie School—Tuesday, April 2, 2019 @ 4:15 p.m.
We started the tennis season competition on a blistery cold and overcast early April afternoon. We waited a long time for our rivals to get here and consequently our guys got chilly waiting in the forty-five-degree weather. Peddie, our rival, came with a young and eager team. They got off to a quick start in most of the flights. Our guys soldiered on, hoping to find their rhythm and to warm their frigid bodies up. Case in point: At first doubles, junior Eli Faigle and sophomore Hari Narayanam found themselves 0-3, down two breaks of serve in the first set. They turned the set around and finished winning it by a score of 6-4. They continued their streak of consecutive games won in the second set and finished the set quickly (6-1). Things did not go so well for our singles players. First and second singles players (and co-captains), juniors Praveen Rodrigo and Kairo Morton, battled but lost to steady and talented Peddie players in straight sets. At third singles, Junior Spencer Stockhammer lost 6-1 in the first set, came back and won the second 7-5, but lost in the third set super-tiebreak 10-4. At second doubles, sophomore Gio Restituto and junior Satchel Smith continued their partnering from last year and won their match in straight sets. It was now up to third and fourth doubles to keep us in the match and to perhaps give us an unlikely win (by sweeping our opponents in the four doubles contests). The prospect looked bleak since they had each dropped a set, and so both matches had to be decided in a 10-point super-tiebreaker. So, side-by-side and in lockstep in adjacent courts, our third and fourth “dubs” battled on in their respective tiebreakers. First to finish was the pair of juniors, Will Carson and Charlie Castle (who was a last minute replacement from JV), at third doubles. Down match point, Charlie single-handedly won the match with an ace served down the middle of the court and a winner drive down the left alley. Our fourth doubles pair of senior Jason Bradley with junior Haru Kato had a comfortable tiebreak lead of 9-4 when their opponents double-faulted to lose the match. An unexpected 4-3 win for GS considering we had lost to Peddie 5-1 last year! As a former GS football coach used to say, “our guys showed a lot of heart.”
George School @ The Hun School of Princeton—Thursday, April 4, 2019 @ 4:15 p.m.
What a difference two days can make weather-wise. We traveled to Princeton to try to avenge last year’s 3-2 loss versus The Hun School. It was a sunny and mild afternoon with little wind; all in all, perfect conditions for tennis. We played the three singles-two doubles format that is commonly used in New Jersey. Satchel Smith ’20 and Gio Restituto ’21 put us on the board with a comfortable straight set win (6-1, 6-1) at second doubles. Next to finish was co-captain Kairo Morton ’20 at second singles. Kairo found his old hitting form, played high-quality tennis and moved his opponent around quite effectively. He was also winning comfortably (6-2, 5-2) when his adversary had to retire after injuring his calf muscle running down one of Kairo’s penetrating shots. Next to finish was our first doubles duo of Eli Faigle ’20 and Hari Narayanam ’21 with a straight-set victory (6-4, 6-3), thanks to their no-nonsense style of play. Their win clinched the match for George School. This took the pressure off our two remaining singles players, who found themselves facing mentally tough opponents. Spencer Stockhammer ’20 was facing a pesky lefty who used his athleticism and flat strokes to outlast Spencer in their rallies. Spencer found himself down a set (6-1) and also down two break points in the second set. He rebounded, made it a closer match by reducing his errors and playing better tactical tennis, but in the end, he lost the second by a score of 6-4. That left our number one singles player and co-captain, Praveen Rodrigo ’20, on the court. Praveen played well the first set (6-2), but lost the second set by the exact same difference. Since the match was already decided, a super tiebreaker (first to ten points) for the final set was played. Praveen led most of the way, but his opponent came roaring back, hitting winners and forcing errors with penetrating drives and serves. Final tiebreak score was 10-8, thus securing a win for Hun’s number one. Final team score: GS-3, Hun-2. All in all, some important lessons learned and a good win, which allowed us, among other things, to continue our streak of consecutive wins (three) at Hun dating back to 2015 as well as remaining unbeaten in the 2019 season.
George School vs Germantown Academy—Friday, April 5, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School @ Moorestown Friends School—Tuesday, April 9, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
Our varsity boys' team traveled to Moorestown, NJ on April 9 for our first FSL contest. The weather was unsettled and the threat of rain was in the air. Fortunately, the scatted thunderstorms stayed to the north. The mild temperature was in the sixties and there was a slight breeze. Over the years we have had some close matches with Moorestown Friends School, including last year’s match where we just etched a win (3-2) at home. We knew that the MFS Foxes would be tough to beat at their place. After a short warm-up, all of our guys found themselves being challenged early. Eventually, we settled down and began to depend on our experience and on our endurance to persevere. First to finish for us was our first doubles pairing of Eli Faigle ’20 and Hari Narayanam ’21, with an impressive straight-set win (6-0, 6-1). Eli served extremely well and Hari was as steady as ever with his strokes.
At third singles, Spencer Stockhammer ’20 also cruised to a dominating victory (6-1, 6-0) thanks to smart strategic play and excellent ball placement. It was a good thing Spencer had just faced a lefty opponent in his previous match and thus had a better time today dealing with the different angles and spins. At this point, we only needed one more flight to win to clinch a victory for GS.
At second doubles, Gio Restituto ’21 and Satchel Smith ’20 started slow and thus had to come from behind to win the first set 6-4. They struggled with easy volleys and putting shots away. Eventually, they also found their mojo and started hitting winners. They convincingly dominated their opponents in the second set (6-1).
Now it was left to our two co-captains and our two top singles players to finish their matches. At first singles, Praveen Rodrigo ’20 faced an old foe, an adversary whom he had faced on multiple occasions in the last two years. Even though Praveen had managed to always win in the past, the matches were always a battle. His opponent had a strong backhand and was quite effective when he charged the net. Today, Praveen stayed focused, found an effective strategy, and executed his shots brilliantly. Praveen’s was our fourth flight to prevailed in straight sets (6-2, 6-2).
The only remaining flight left was second singles. Kairo Morton ’20 also faced a known opponent, one who had been evenly matched with Kairo in last year’s FSL Invitational Tournament. This year was no different. Kairo lost the first set (1-6), but found his groove in the second (6-3). Since the match was already decided and they had split sets, they played a ten-point super-tiebreaker. The breaker was close until Kairo opened a three-shot lead, but missed a couple of ambitious drop volleys. They went back and forth, with each getting match points, but Kairo forced an opponent’s error to win 13-11.
Final tally: GS-5 MFS-0. Records: 3-0 (overall), 1-0 (FSL). So far our guys are showing maturity and mental toughness early this season.
1S Praveen Rodrigo (GS) def. Liam Schenk: 6-2, 6-2.
2S Kairo Morton (GS) def. Mitchel Desman: 1-6, 6-3, 13-11.
3S Spencer Stockhammer (GS) def. Matt Cherfane: 6-1, 6-0.
1D Eli Faigle & Hari Narayanam (GS) def. Anthony Carrano & Josh Strauss: 6-0, 6-1
2D Gio Restituto & Satchel Smith (GS) def. Blake Weiner & Jason Strauss: 6-4, 6-1.
George School vs FSL Individual Tournament—Saturday, April 13, 2019 @ 10:00 a.m.
Congratulations to Sampson Sands, the singles winner from Shipley. Shipley also came away with the second and third place finishes: Sebastian Fras second and Max Homans third. George School's Praveen Rodrigo finished in fourth place in the seventeen-man singles bracket.
Congratulations to Gary Palmer and Jacob Morse from Germantown Friends for winning the doubles bracket! Finishing in second was Shipley's Jacob Israeli and Jared Pearlstein. In third place was George School's Hari Narayanam and Satchel Smith. Coming in fourth place was Moorestown Friends' Blake Weiner and Jason Strauss in the nine-team bracket.
George School @ Shipley School—Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School vs New Hope-Solebury High School—Wednesday, April 17, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School @ Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy—Thursday, April 18, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
Our Cougars hosted SCHA’s Blue Devils for the first time in at least a couple of decades. They came with a talented and experienced squad which included four seniors. Our guys battled hard, keeping us within striking distance of our opponents, but in the end, only Praveen Rodrigo ’20 was victorious at first singles. Praveen earned a decisive straight-set win versus a dangerous opponent, Levi Veleanu ’20, by a score of 7-5, 6-0. Kairo Morton ’20 split sets against a senior but lost in the rubber set (2-6). Another flight to split sets was the third doubles duo of Wabsono Bao ’21 and Will Carson ’20, but they lost in a contested third set super tiebreaker by a score of 12-10. Other flights like first and second doubles kept things close but were unable to win a set. Our opponents did a good job keeping us off balance and not folding under pressure during key points.
1S Praveen Rodrigo (GS) def. Levi Veleanu: 7-5, 6-0
2S Victor Jones (SCHA) def. Kairo Morton: 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
2S David Lubell (SCHA) def. Spencer Stockhammer: 6-2, 6-4
1D Sante Fillippini & Cole Golden (SCHA) def. Eli Faigle & Hari Narayanam: 6-3, 7-64
2D George Peck & Ehson Shirazi (SCHA) def. Gio Restituto & Satchel Smith: 6-3, 6-4
3D Simon Kioko & Zach Shapiro (SCHA) def. Wabsono Bao & Will Carson: 5-7, 6-0, 12-10
4D Victor Kazian & Christopher Yarish (SCHA) def. Haru Kato & Tino Merazi: 6-3, 6-0
George School vs Abington Friends School—Tuesday, April 23, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School @ Pennington School—Wednesday, April 24, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School @ Friends’ Central School—Tuesday, April 30, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School vs Friends Select School—Wednesday, May 1, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
George School vs Germantown Friends School—Friday, May 3, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
We hosted defending FSL Champ, Germantown Friends, on a cloudy mild afternoon. As always, they came ready to play even though they had to move some players around. The Tigers have the luxury a deep squad with lots of experienced seniors. Praveen Rodrigo faced a known foe at first singles, an opponent he has faced the last two years. Praveen dominated the first set (6-2), but got tired, lost focus and lost the next two sets 6-0, 6-0. Kairo Morton started down a break but battled back to win the first set 7-5. He won his second set (6-4) and the match with patient and smart play at second singles. At third singles, Spencer Stockhammer had his hands full with a pesky lefty senior. He worked hard to stay in the match but lost in straight sets (7-5, 6-4). Things were also tough for our doubles guys. Eli Faigle and Hari Narayanam were in a very contested match at first doubles, but they were unable to break through. Eli and Hari lost the long match in straight sets (6-4, 7-5). Gio Restituto and Satchel Smith had lots of opportunities to win the first set, but their opponents rallied back to win it 7-5. The second set went back and forth, but our guys hung on to win it in the tiebreaker 8-6. The third set went to our visitors 6-2, as our guys were physically and mentally spent after 2 ½ hours of play. Overall score: GFS-4 GS-1.
George School vs Westtown School—Tuesday, May 7, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.
This match was a rain makeup that had been interrupted a couple of weeks back. This time around the weather conditions were perfect. We came into this game with a tied league record with Westtown (4-2) and therefore the winner of the match would earn the third seed in the FSL Championship and the loser would get the fourth seed.
Our first doubles pair (Eli Faigle and Hari Narayanam) got us off to a great start with a decisive straight-set win (6-1, 6-3) by easily holding serve and putting away lots of open shots. Kairo Morton continued our winning ways by also earning in a straight-set win (7-6, 6-4) at second singles. Kairo played an excellent tactical game mixing his shots and keeping his three-time All-League senior opponent constantly guessing. Kairo’s versatile game was in full display with a good mix of drives, half volleys, drop shots and lobs. He was especially effective in hitting winners after opening up the court. Things got tighter for us as Westtown made a strong push at the remaining flights. At first singles, Praveen was up against a well-known adversary and a two-time All-League player. Praveen played some of his best tennis and was a break late in the first set, but his junior opponent hung tough. The set went into a contested tiebreaker where Praveen was edged out by a score of 7-4, thanks to steady play and a couple of fortuitous shots. The second set also went to his opponent by a score of 5-2. This was a bit of a heartbreaker for Praveen after playing so well in the first set. Our second doubles pair (Gio Restituto and Satchel Smith) got off to a great start (6-0), but found themselves in a dog fight in the second. Their opponents made some good angled shots and played loopy balls quite effectively. The second set went to a tiebreaker but unfortunately, our guys missed some easy put-away shots. To Gio’s and Satchel’s credit, they immediately engineered a couple of early breaks in the final set (6-2). They attacked well and neutralized their opponents with crosscourt and down-the-line drives and volleys. Satchel served exceptionally well. This win clinched the match for us! Third singles were the last to finish with another 3 set match. Sophomore Wabsono Bao moved up from JV singles to take on an experienced senior opponent. Wabsono was a bit nervous and lost the first set by two breaks (6-3). He made a good comeback in the second (6-4), but ultimately Wabsono got tired after 2 ½ hours of play and lost the third by a score of 6-2.
Final tally: GS-3, Westtown School-2
For us, it was the first time since we won against Westtown since we defeated them for the league title in 2016. We thus finished the regular season with a 5-2 league record and earned the 3rd seed for the FSL Team Championship that will be played Saturday. The team will play versus GFS, the league's defending 2018 champion.