Girls Tennis: Freshmen duo Pingry and Pongry capture the 2021 state doubles title (PHOTOS/VIDEO)

Girls Tennis: Freshmen duo Pingry and Pongry capture the 2021 state doubles title (PHOTOS/VIDEO) ...

Isabelle Chen and Leila Souyah of Pingry won the NJSIAA state doubles tournament title on Sunday morning at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.

Chen and Souyah, two freshmen, defeated Marlboros third-seeded sisters duo of Klarissa and Kayla Salfarlie, 6-2, 6-1. The two are the third Pingry duo to win the doubles title, following Lexy Knopp and Jassica Magidson in 2000 and Aly Kerr & Jackie Reef in 2006.

After the match, Souayah declared, Its like a madness. Were super duper happy, she added.

Souayah and Chen were just starting out, so it was all a new experience for them, but they all took it in and improved as they went. They credited their teammates who came out to MCP to assist them in pushing them all season long.

At the end of the day we also think are like second doubles and the whole team, Souayah said. All of them have assisted us in some way in getting us here. Were just freshmen.

The two didnt know what to expect going into the tournament, but the only thing they would control was themselves.

To be honest, we just took it one match at a time. Chen said, "We didn't think too far ahead." We focused on one match and one point at a time, he said.

Marion Weber, Pingry coach, is incredibly proud of her two newcomers.

Isabelle and Leila have had a wonderful season, said Leifa. With every match, their doubles technique has improved. Somerset County champions, Prep A champion champion, and now state champion. As freshmen, their hard work and dedication to the team is paying off. I couldnt be happier with them. What a great honor to have two freshmen win this title. Theyve put in a lot of work and incredibly long hours. They stepped up to the plate. Our second doubles team has been in charge of them since the beginning. They werent great doubles players at the beginning of the year, but now theyre well on their way. They really learned to play the game of doubles and winning this title today is just incredible.

Weber said the two girls were a match because of their skill, work ethic, communication skills, and the fact that they are easy to coach. Chen talked about that.

Chen explained, We understand how we like each other play. We communicate well and remain positive for each other. If were down we help each other out.

The opening set against Marlboro went back and forth, neither team giving an inch. Pingry led 3-2 before that, and that was until PINGRY scored again. Marlboro broke Marltons serve to go up 4-2, which changed the game in two ways.

It was really important. We were like, okay, we have to do this, Souayah said of winning the break. Just focus and make sure we get it, he added.

Pingry went ahead 3-1 in the second set and was playing with confidence. But Marlboro came back to make it 3-2 and then 4-3, but Pingry closed the match by breaking serve again and getting a hold to end it.

We played really well, and so did our opponents. It was such a good match, Chen said. They were they were good. They had good ground strokes. Overall, they were good. One of our toughest matches, said Ms.

Theres a chance that Pingry and Marlboro could meet again later next week. Both teams are seeded No. 1 and No, 2, respectively, in the upcoming team Tournament of Champions. Non-Public A went to Pingry while Marlboro took Group 4 in Group 1. PINGRY won Non Public A while MARLBO took group 4.

We love every match. Its always fun. Souayah and Chen agreed.

Souayah and Chen went to varsity from the middle school program that Weber and junior jv coach George Roser started just over a decade ago when Webers arrived. The pair have aided in the revamping and development of Pingry tennis, and it's starting to show.

Its great to be back. Weve been trying for a couple years, Weber stated. We started this program, the JV coach and I 12 years ago, and we have come a long way. This year, its all the reward for all of the hard work weve put in and the children have put into over the years.

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Chris Nalwasky is available at cnalwask@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisNalwasky.

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