CHATHAM, NJ - It was a matchup the Chatham girls tennis team won pretty handily when the two teams met on Sept. 12.
But the rematch, a 3-2 win over Scotch Plains in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament semifinals, came with a few surprises on Friday at the Strand Tennis Center.
"Coming into the match, the girls knew it would be a tough match even though we beat them 4-1," Chatham coach James Cai said. "Our second singles Nora (Wiekert) was a little sick. That added a little surprise to the whole match. The girls fought hard. Scotch Plains also changed its lineup and they had a different first doubles team, so that was another surprise for us to play in a semifinal."
Chatham's first doubles team of junior Sydney Berkson and freshman Sarah Fidora won the decisive point by coming back form a set down to win their match 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and advance the Cougars to the sectional final.
Sydney Berkson and Sarah Fidora talk about their decisive win
"The whole team was supporting them," Cai said. "The girls love each other and that's why we're a team.
"I didn't know how this season was going to go. We had so many close matches, 3-2, 2-3s. Those matches really helped us grow through the season, day by day, match by match, point by point. Now they know how to play through those crucial moments to win for the team."
Chatham will play top-seeded Millburn, 1 p.m. Tuesday for the sectional title at the site to be determined.
Cameron Sims won at third singles for Chatham 6-2, 6-0 and the Cougars got their other point from the second doubles tandem of Anna Paskalides and Siena Wong, who won their match 6-3, 6-0.