EDISON — With six wins under her belt, junior Anmol Gupta leads the Edison High School girls tennis team this year in victories.
Playing in the No. 1 singles position, Gupta competes against the best each school has to offer. In the Greater Middlesex Conference this is no easy task, considering that such powerhouses as J.P. Stevens and East Brunswick take up residency in the conference.
Despite an overall record of 4-14 and a conference record of 2-9, Eagles coach Wesley Smith is pleased with his team’s effort and their mental toughness.
"Anmol is the obvious leader of our team and the team’s most valuable player," Smith said. "Every girl on this team tries her best, and they train and drill hard at every practice. Three out of the four wins this year have been 3-2 matches. This team has the tenacity to come up with the pressure win."
In addition to Gupta, the singles trio is comprised of senior Francine Rader at second singles and senior Shanie-Ann Sturridge at the third singles position. In last week’s tough loss to conference rival Piscataway, Rader and Sturridge both came up with victories in the 3-2 loss.
In doubles competition, the Eagles are led by a crop of underclassmen, who indicate future success is on the horizon. Showing great promise are sophomore Marsha Dario and junior Meghan Patel at first doubles, and sophomores Sasha Jiwani and Kelly Okengwu at second doubles.
Along with a young varsity team, Smith is pleased with the team’s freshman and junior varsity programs.
"We have a nice JV and freshman crop, and we are looking forward to the upcoming years to challenge the top teams in the conference," Smith said. "This year, we’ve had freshman step in for injured players on the JV roster, and they have come up with big wins at the singles positions."
With Gupta returning to the No. 1 spot, the Eagles will look to her work ethic and consistent play to lead them once again.
"Anmol’s strength is her consistency," Smith said. "She can stay out on the court all day and wear opponents down with her baseline play. She has a strong two-handed backhand, and with the experience at the No. 1 position this year, she will be tough to beat. A real goal for her is to qualify for the state singles tournament next year."
In order to qualify for the singles tournament, Gupta will have to win 60 percent of her matches next year.
"Winning 60 percent of her matches was tough this year considering the competition in the conference," Smith said. "This will be a realistic goal for Anmol next season."
The Lady Eagles are looking to finish up their season this week with a few more victories. Edison will travel to New Brunswick on Thursday and host Sayreville on Friday, before ending the season in Union on Oct. 27.
"We go into every match ready to compete, and we expect to win," Smith said. "There are tough players on this team, and they keep getting better."
Notes… The rematch between the top-ranked East Brunswick Bears and J.P. Stevens took place on Monday, with the Bears looking to avenge an earlier 3-2 loss to the Hawks.
With a win, the Bears would earn a tie for the Red Division title, the team’s 13th in a row.
Meanwhile, Stevens’ Lucy Zhang’s magical run through the NJSIAA singles tournament came to an end on Saturday, with a straight-sets loss to Summit’s Ann Mungo at Mercer County Park.
Zhang, who is only a sophomore and was recently crowned the GMC’s first-singles champion, was the only unseeded player to reach the quarterfinals. However, her brilliant run came to an end against Mungo, as she fell 6-1, 6-0.