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TENNIS: Germantown Friends Proves Six Times a Charm in Championship Win Against Friends' Central

By Matthew Zwiercan, 05/18/23, 8:00AM EDT


Germantown Friends School 2023 FSL Tennis Champions

Germantown Friends School 2023 Friends School League Champions. (Photo by Kathy Leister)


(Photos & video by Kathy Leister)

PHILADELPHIA - Even Mother Nature could not stop the undefeated Germantown Friends School Tigers (GFS) from securing its sixth consecutive Friends League Boys Tennis Championship by a score of 4-1.

The final match between the Tigers (12-0; 9-0) and Friends’ Central (FCS) (9-3; 7-2) was scheduled for Sat., May 13th at Germantown Friends but rain pushed the match to the following Monday afternoon. The change in plans wasn’t new to the Tigers, who won last year’s championship under similar circumstances. These schools have combined championship meetings for 17 of the last 23 Friends League Tennis Championships dating back to 1985.

Germantown Friends & Friends' Central in FSL Championship Match. (Video highlights/ Kathy Leister for PSD)

Just four days prior in the semifinals, the Tigers secured their title spot when they swept the Shipley school 5-0.  The Phoenix claimed their title spot in their 4-1 victory over Moorestown Friends School.

Germantown Friends started off strong and continued that momentum throughout most of the day.

Josh Miller, one of the youngest players competing in the match as an 8th grader, got the ball rolling for the Tigers, winning his first singles match against Friends' Central's  Ezra Raphael in straight sets.

“I just decided to play my game,” Miller said.

Miller won in two straight sets.

Germantown Friends School's Joshua Miller First Singles Champion (Photo/ Kathy Leister for PSD)

Germantown Friends First Singles Player Joshua Miller Talks About his game winning match and team chemistry. (video/ Matt Zwiercan for PSD)

On the far court was the second doubles match pair of Germantown Friends' junior Wil Tullo and sophomore Benedict Tessler.  The duo played to their strengths defeating the identical twin pairing of Friends' Central's 8th graders Charlie and Holden Freeman in straight sets to put GFS up 2-0.

The clinching victory for the Tigers came from the newest member of GFS, senior Sam Zimmer. The former soccer player defeated sophomore Luke Cilli in straight sets during the second singles match.

“I was just coming to join the team to play some more tennis in my senior year, and it feels awesome to win with such a talented group of guys,” Zimmer said. “It was awesome to see [my teammates] grow throughout the season and be part of a team that’s really talented.”

According to Zimmer, the transition from playing soccer to tennis was a unique experience.

“It’s been cool bonding with the guys on the team while also being competitive with them,” Zimmer said.

Germantown Friends senior Sam Zimmer second singles champion. (Photo/ Kathy Leister for PSD).

Sophomore first doubles duo Sam Bekelman and Joseph Helfrich captured the victory against FCS double partners junior Wes Bozman and senior Michael Chou. A mid-match injury paused the action, which allowed FCS to win a set and push the match to a deciding third.

“It definitely did shake us up a little bit,” Helfrich said. “But we were able to refocus and lock in.”

GFS Second singles champion senior Sam Zimmer talks about this being his first time on the team. (video/ Matt Zmiercan)

GFS 1st Doubles Winners Sam Bekelman and Joseph Helfrich feel great adding to the Tigers' winning legacy. (Video/ Matt Zmiercan)

The battle between GFS third singles player senior Jackson Zuercher and FCS third singles player freshman Kaylan Satti was the most intensive match of the day. The two battled for almost three hours, finishing with a tie-breaker set with Satti claiming an 11-9 victory.

Friends' Central School's 3rd singles player freshman Kalyan Satti talks about intense 3 hour tie-breaking battle & confident his team will be back in the Finals Next season. (Video/ Matt Zwiercan)

Germantown Friends School's 3rd Singles player Senior Captain Jackson Zuercher discusses the physicality of his match and lauds his teams efforts in championship win. (VIdeo/ Matt Zwiercan)

“One of my more stressful matches,” Satti said. “I’m pretty exhausted. It was a very tiring, long match but I had to grind out a lot of points.”

Satti also shared his optimism for the future of FCS despite Monday’s defeat.

“I know we’re gonna be back here,” Satti said. “Our team’s a relatively young team. We have two eighth graders playing doubles. … Everyone played really well, and I think next year we’re going to be an even better team.”

Although Zuercher’s final match did not have a favorable outcome for him, he was extremely proud of his team’s victory.

“It would have been a lot more satisfying if I had won that match,” Zuercher said. “At the end of the day, we still won and my teammates were amazing and deserved to win.”

2023 FSL Tennis Championship Awards Presentation. (video/ Matt Zwiercan)