The eight seniors on the Collingswood High School girls' tennis team were hoping to be a part of a long playoff run in their farewell season.
They will have to settle for putting Collingswood tennis back on the map.
The fourth-ranked Panthers fell to Woodstown, 3-2, in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon. Collingswood had won 14 of 17 entering the match, but could not muster a second playoff victory.
“I felt our team competed very well,” coach Miles Holland said. “We came up short, but everyone gave their best.”
The Panthers got a dominant effort from No. 1 singles player Sophy Siv, who blanked Victoria Russell, 6-0, 6-0. Panthers’ No. 2 Jen Cotton was equally as impressive, defeating Jessie Walker, 6-4, 6-3.
“Sophy did an absolutely outstanding job,” Holland said. “[Cotton] also did a really, really good job. She was still out there when the match had already been decided and she didn't let that affect her. She worked through and hit the shots she needed to."
Cat Maienza nearly forced a third set at No. 3 singles, closing to within 6-5 in each of the first two sets. Ultimately, however, she couldn't overcome Jessica Demarest, who won 7-5, 7-5. That the match was so close is credit to Maienza’s improvement this season; earlier this year she was easily handled by Demarest.
“Even though the scorecard doesn’t show it, she did an outstanding job,” Holland said. “Last time we played Woodstown, I think she lost 6-2, 6-2, so there is tremendous progress. The match could have gone either way.”
Collingswood’s doubles teams were unable to get much going, with each losing in straight sets.
“I think I have seen them play better in the past, but they went forth trying to win and put forth their best,” Holland said. “That’s all you can ask of them.”
Although the Panthers would have loved to keep their playoff run going a little longer there was little chance they would have made it past the semifinals, where No. 1 Haddonfield is waiting. The Bulldawgs beat the Panthers 5-0 twice this season and are heavy favorites to win the state title.
Even though Tuesday’s loss ends the postseason for Collingswood, there are still several games remaining on the regular season schedule. The Panthers are back in action Wednesday against Audubon, with a pair of matches against Palmyra still on the schedule and the Colonial Conference Tournament to look forward to this weekend.
Holland said he will make sure the eight seniors on the team receive plenty of recognition over the next two weeks for the way they have built the program up. The coach spoke of his seniors' desires to finish the season strong, even if their playoff run didn’t last as long as they would have liked.
“I think they are going to come out and try to do their best regardless,” Holland said. “Even though it was disappointing to lose in the second round, I still know they gave the best effort. They have such a great record for the season and they don’t want to see that diminished. I expect them to try and move that forward the rest of the way.”