CHATHAM, NJ - Scarlett Blydenburgh says she felt nervous and overwhelmed leading up to the Morris County Tournament singles championship match.
During the match, she was just too tired to be nervous or overwhelmed.
"She was exhausted after the morning match," Chatham coach James Cai said. "She played almost four hours in the morning match and she only had 45 minutes to rest. She quickly lost the first set in the final. I asked her if she wanted to win the match and she said yes. She knew what she had to do. She knew she had to be more aggressive. In the second set she came to the net a lot more. The whole rhythm of the match was different after that."
Blydenburgh came back to defeat Lauren Hassell of Mendham, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the Morris County Tournament first-singles championship on Sept. 29 at the County College of Morris in Randolph.
The effort by the freshman capped off a team run by Chatham, which upended three-time MCT champion Mendham to win its first county title since 2000.
Blydenburgh is TAP Chatham's Athlete of the Week.
Chatham had its players reach the MCT championship round in each of the five categories to earn the team title. The finalists for the Cougars included: Sophia Fredriksson (second singles), Bridgette Hickey (third singles), Emily Sroczynski and Alison Ramsland (first doubles) and Katie Howard-Johnson and Laurel Hickey (second doubles).
In her morning semifinal, Blydenburgh was match up with Kristin Godau of Montville, a player she had lost to a few months earlier.
"I was nervous because I had lost to her before," said Blydenburgh, who turned 14 last week. "Once I was out there, I felt fine. I kept telling myself that I could do it."
Blydenburgh dropped the first set to Godau, but then came back to win it and set up her final against Hassell.
"When her mind is clear, she plays her best tennis," Cai said. "She's a player who never gives on the court and that's one of her strengths."
Chatham is set to play host to Mendham on Monday at the Colony Courts in the NJSIAA sectional finals. A year ago, Mendham ended Chatham's season in the same round of the state tournament.