The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association announced the pairings for this fall’s girls tennis playoff tournament and all four Lenape Regional High School District teams have qualified.
Shawnee, 11-1 on the season, is the top seed in the Southwest B Group 3 bracket and open against No. 8 Highland in the quarterfinal round.
“The biggest challenge with COVID is not having a regular tennis season,” said Shawnee coach Sarah Fitzgerald. “This is the best team Shawnee has had in more than a decade and we did not have an opportunity to compete in a regular season, as well as compete in state/county singles or doubles tournaments. I believe this would have been a record-breaking year for us and I was looking forward to see how far the girls would go as a team and also individually.”
Fitzgerald continued: “That being said, I am thrilled we have a season and have had the opportunity to play 12 matches and now we are days away from entering Southwest Group 3 sectional playoffs. After losing to Moorestown in the sectional final last season, we set a goal that day to be right back in the final next year and compete again for the title. As the Shawnee assistant lacrosse coach, I saw firsthand how devastating it was for our lacrosse players to lose an entire season so I make sure to emphasize gratitude and opportunity daily. The team is happy to be competing in each match and so far it has been an amazing ride, but we are not done yet.”
Seneca (4-5) is the No. 3 seed in the Southwest C Group 2 bracket behind No.1 Haddonfield and No. 2 Pemberton. The Golden Eagles will host No. 6 Sterling in their playoff opener this week.
“Our word for this season is grateful!” said Seneca coach Sue Johnson. “We always talk about grateful we are that we are outside playing tennis, having practice, having matches and being together as a team. I wasn’t sure what the season would look like or if there would even be a season- so I’m grateful for every day we have together. We’ve had some awesome weather as well.”
Johnson continued: “It’s exciting to be the No. 3 seed in the NJSIAA Southwest C Group 2 tournament and we’re looking forward to playing our best tennis versus Sterling. I love playing schools out of our county and conference plus another day on the courts for a match is a great day.”
Lenape is the No. 2 seed in the Southwest A Group 4 playoffs. The Indians hosted No. 7 Kingsway in the quarterfinal round Oct. 27.
“We are really excited for the playoffs,” said Lenape coach John Carnevale. “We have a strong team this year. We finished the regular season at 8- 4. We made it to the finals last year and lost to Cherry Hill East. We're hoping to get back to the finals again this year for another chance to win a championship. Kingsway always has a strong and competitive team, so we're looking forward to the competition (this week).
Cherokee is also in Lenape’s bracket and seeded fourth. The 4-7 Chiefs hosted No. 5 Rancocas Valley in the quarterfinal playoff opener Oct. 27.