MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Columbia girls tennis team was defeated Tuesday by Newark Academy, which is one of the top 10 teams in New Jersey.
Coming into the match, the Cougars had a 3-8 record. Coach Bob Lieberman is in his first season as head coach and has already had more wins – three -- than last year’s team, one. The Columbia girls did not get off to the best start, with every first game going to Newark Academy.
But the second and third singles players, Olivia Baker and Emma Katz, battled hard to get back into set. Baker spent the whole set running wild and keeping pace with her competition, Rebecca Gorelov, while Katz played a much slower-paced game against Rachel Greene.
Baker battled hard for every point, but Gorelov wore her out and took the first set 6-3. Baker came out strong again in the second set, but Gorelov won the match, taking the second set 6-2.
Katz and Greene were very evenly matched, and if Greene had made a few more mistakes, the set might have gone in Katz’s favor. Greene was able to finish the set, winning 6-4. The second set was very similar to the first, but Katz seemed a bit more tired than Greene, who won the second set 6-2 to win the match.
The first singles match pitted Julia Lester-Taylor of Columbia High School against Molly Alter of Newark Academy. Lester-Taylor played a strong, competitive match, fighting for every point, but Alter was able to take the first set 6-1 and to finish the match with a 6-0 victory in the second set.
Even though Lester-Taylor only won one game, the score does not accurately depict the match. Her strong ground strokes kept the rallies going and made the match very competitive.
Columbia’s first doubles team, Ivana Thornton and Maya Hinton, had their hands full with Newark Academy’s Carly Greenberg and Hannah Gould. Greenberg and Gould took the first set 6-1 and ended the match in the second set with the same score. Greenberg and Gould seemed to outplay Thornton and Hinton.
The Cougars’ second doubles team, Sydney James and Olivia Lascari, appeared to be outmatched by Newark’s Allie Cohen and Phoebe Feinberg after losing the first set 6-2, but they came out strong in the second set and won three games after giving up two to Newark. However, Cohen and Feinberg were able to outlast the Cougars’ attack and took the set and the match with a 6-3 victory.
Even though Columbia lost every match and the match as a whole, bringing their record to 3-9 for the season, Lieberman said, “They (the whole team) has been improving since the beginning and performed well against one of the top 10 teams in the state.” He also said that he was proud of the girls’ play, despite the loss.
The Cougars will look to rebound Monday against Livingston High School.