Photos/Videos by Jake Gabel
By: Jake Gabel
PHILADELPHIA – Capping off an undefeated season in Friends School League play, Germantown Friends defeated Westtown 5-0, to win the the Friends School League boy’s tennis championship. This victory marked five consecutive FSL championships for Germantown Friends.
The FSL tennis championship was originally scheduled for Friday, May 13. However, a strong line of thunderstorms saturated the courts, pushing the match to the following Wednesday afternoon. Coming into the championship match, Westtown only had one loss all season. That loss was against Germantown Friends during the regular season, in which the Tigers won 4-1.
Prior to the matches during the team warm-ups, Westtown’s No.1 singles player Ben Shaman hurt his ankle just minutes before the match. Shaman would be attended to and got his ankle taped up, toughing it out for his team.
Germantown Friends wins 5th straight FSL title in 5-0 victory vs. Westtown on May 18 - PSD Photo by Jake Gabel
Despite the valiant effort displayed by Shaman, he would end up losing to Germantown Friends’ No.1 singles player Rishi Cohen (6-0, 6-0). As seniors, this would be Shaman and Cohen’s last matches in the Friends Schools League. This was the first match to finish, and it gave Germantown Friends a 1-0 start.
“I’m definitely going to be sad that it’s all over because this is my fifth year on the team and one of my favorite things through all of high school was playing on this team,” said Cohen. “It’s meant a lot to me.”
The second match to finish up would be No. 1 doubles. For Germantown Friends, seniors Alex Sanderson and Asher Smith-Frank would take on Westtown senior Jhan Setthachayanon and junior John Martini. Sanderson and Smith-Frank would prove to be too much for Westtown to handle, winning their match 6-1, 6-0.
Unbeknownst to Germantown Friend’s No. 2 doubles team of sophomore Wil Tullo and freshman Benedict Tessler, the fate of the Tigers was in their hands. Tullo and Tessler won in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 over Westtown senior Ben Soland and freshman Jay Harper, clinching the championship victory.
The fourth victorious match for Germantown Friends would come on the No. 3 singles court. Junior Jackson Zuercher would take down Westtown eighth grader Jack Bartholomae 6-3, 6-1. With the FSL title already clinched, the Tigers looked to make things a clean sweep. While tennis is often deemed an individual sport, Zuercher noted how his team really impacted his confidence on the court.
“I think it’s really cool how you can be out there alone as a singles player, but you don’t feel alone because you are right next to all of your teammates,” said Zuercher. “So even when you are separated on the court you can yell over and say, ‘Nice shot,’ and they can call back to you and it builds a nice supportive dynamic with everyone.”
The sweep for the Tigers would by no means come easy. The No. 2 singles match between Germantown Friends senior Jacob Morse and Westtown senior Felix Michler would be, by far, the longest and most competitive match of the day. It was a close one from the start, with Germantown Friends’ Morse winning the first set 7-5.
Because of the close first set, midway through the second set, all the players from both teams walked onto the near court to watch and cheer on their teammates for the final match of the championship. The second set would be dominated by Westtown’s Michler, who would win it 6-2.
Due to the already determined outcome of the Tiger’s winning the championship, instead of a full third set, the two played a tiebreaker set (first to 10, win by two). Michler kept his second set momentum going and jumped out to an early lead. Morse however would respond, and not only tie things back up, but take the lead. In an extremely close match, Morse would win the tiebreaker 10-8.
“Just hearing certain members of my team cheering for me really pulled me through. It was great,” said Morse.
With that final match, Germantown Friends would complete the sweep 5-0. Five being the Tiger’s apparent lucky number, as it resulted in their 5th straight Friends School League tennis championship.