August 28, 2013 at 6:00 AM
CHATHAM, NJ - She only weighs 90 pounds and is just 13 years old.
But don't be fooled by soft-spoken freshman Scarlett Blydenburg. Chatham High's No. 1 singles player is just one reason the Cougars could be headed for a long run in the state tournament this fall.
James Cai, in his first season as the Chatham girls head coach, noted that he was greeted by an "insanely talented" group of newcomers.
Blydenburg is ranked No. 5 in the state in her age group and 130 nationally, according to the Tennis Recruitiing Network. At No. 2 singles is another freshman, sleek 5-9 Sophia Fredriksson, who came to the United States from Sweden four years ago.
Winning the spot at No. 3 singles is Bridgette Hickey, a junior who arrived from Charlotte, N.C., a little more than a week ago. Her younger sister, Laurel, is a freshman on the team.
Chatham captains, Jess Sullivan and Katie Howard-Johnson, played doubles together last season. Sullivan has certainly noticed the sudden infusion of talent.
"I think it sets up our season," Sullivan said. "We'll probably go farther than we've ever gone (in the state tournament). Most of the seniors won't be as high up as they could have been, but I think it's a good thing."
Junior Emily Srocynski, No. 1 singles last year, is likely to team up with senior Alison Ramsland at doubles. Laurel Hickey and another freshman, Olivia O'Brien will play doubles. Bridgette Hickey beat out her sister for the No. 3 singles spot.
Cai noted that the team was 18-5 last year and bowed in the state sectional final to Mendham.
"It's going to be an interesting season," Cai said. "Our singles players are very talented."
Chatham will start its season on Sept. 7 when it competes in the Millburn Tournament. Chatham will play Montville in the first round. If Chatham wins, it will play either host Millburn or Gov. Livingston.