East Penn Press

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONEmmaus’ Tina Zhang follows through on a shot during a recent match. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONEmmaus’ Tina Zhang follows through on a shot during a recent match.

Tennis team his difficult part of schedule

Thursday, September 28, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Even before the tennis season got underway, Emmaus coach Dimitri Diamandopoulos warned that the schedule was much tougher late in the season than it was early in the season.

When the team won its first five matches, he was still singing the same tune. When they were 6-1, he pointed out remaining matches against Freedom, Nazareth, Parkland and other teams who were all strong.

Turns out that the coach knew what he was talking about. After a disappointing 4-3 loss to Northampton two weeks ago, the season has generally slipped away from Emmaus as it lost to both Nazareth and Parkland by 7-0 scores, fell to Easton 6-1 and then lost to Pleasant Valley 5-1

The Hornets are 6-7 on the season and need to beat a tough Southern Lehigh team to get into team districts.

“I think anyone could see that the schedule this season had a lot of tough matches late in the year,” said Diamandopoulos. “Any time you have to play Nazareth (11-2), Parkland (10-4) and Easton (14-0) in a row, that’s tough. Then there’s Pleasant Valley (10-5) and Stroudsburg (10-4), and they’re all on the second half of the schedule.”

Southern Lehigh (15-1), who hosts Emmaus this afternoon, played a marathon match against Parkland over the weekend that saw the Spartans escape with a 4-3 win. The team is strong up and down the lineup in both singles and doubles.

“I said when we lost to Northampton that we could have lost our season right there,” said Diamandopoulos. “That was a match that we needed to get and it would have put us in a better spot. Now, Northampton is the one that’s 7-6 and we have to beat a good team in the last match of the season to get to 500.”

Emmaus has a young team and the hope was that the early matches against somewhat lesser opponents would help them to develop on the court and also garner some confidence going into the tougher part of the schedule. While they have shown some development, it wasn’t enough to fend off the best teams in the EPC.

“For a program like us, you always need to win those matches that are the winnable ones and you know that you’re probably going to take some hits against the tougher schools,” said Diamandopoulos. “We simply don’t get the numbers like a Parkland or some of the other teams do. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have good players, but we don’t have the depth and that’s where we get hurt.”

One of the bright spots this season has been the number-three doubles team of Sandhya Sriram and Misa Hollinger. The duo picked up the only two wins for the team in their last four matches this season. The bad news is that the team won’t be able to stay together long-term, since Sriram is a senior and will be lost to graduation. Hollinger is only a freshman and has developed well playing alongside Sriram.

“They’ve both been great to have on the team,” said Diamandopoulos. “I think they have meshed well and they’ve had some success this season. We’ll have to see what the future holds for Misa once Sandhya graduates and moves on.”