Demarest wins first section title since 1989 by Bob Shwalb Special to The Record
DEMAREST – As the tennis ball sailed toward her, Alissa Hsu experienced a feeling of hope. The NV/Demarest freshman was hoping her opponent’s shot “didn’t have some sort of crazy spin on it and stay in.”
“I was hoping it was out,” Hsu said.
When it was, NV/Demarest’s hopes became a reality.
On Tuesday, the Norsewomen claimed their first state championship since 1989 as they topped West Essex in the NJSIAA North 1, Group 2 sectional finals, 5-0.
Hsu and her second-doubles partner Saloni Javeri recorded the third and decisive point while singles players Anna Chow, Emily Oh and Sarah Zelman and the first-doubles pair of Caitlin Frank and Julietta Ambartsoumian triumphed as well.
With three of her teammates still playing, Javeri said she had to control her emotions when NV/Demarest’s 28-year championship drought ended.
“When I saw the final shot go out, I was so excited,” Javeri said. “It was really hard not to scream out loud because we’ve put in so much hard work, not just as individuals but as a team. We come together for practices day and night, even on Saturdays and weekends. To see it all come together and especially being a senior, it’s just amazing.”
NORTH 1, GROUP 1: Kinnelon holds off Glen Rock to claim third-straight title
Amazingly, Javeri had no idea she’d play in the finals until Monday. Hsu and her regular partner, Kyri LePree, won the Bergen County Tournament’s large-schools second-doubles title roughly three weeks earlier but LePree sprained her ankle in gym class before the sectional tournament began.
Javeri started on last year’s team but hadn’t played with the varsity in about a month. With everything on the line, NV/Demarest coach Dave Johnson gave her the nod.
“At first I was really nervous,” Javeri said. “I didn’t know if my strokes were going to be OK or not. But Coach said he chose me for my personality because Alissa needed someone who could tell her ‘it’ll be OK’ and ‘you can do it.’ That gave me a lot of motivation and confidence.”
Setting the stage for Javeri Hsu’s heroics were Chow and Oh, who lost just one game between them in their singles victories. First-singles player Chow, a freshman, needed just 38 minutes to shut out rival Sadye Boshak, while Oh, a senior, needed less than an hour to beat Madison Santaromita in a match that was actually quite entertaining despite its 6-1 and 6-0 scores.
“I always try to stay intense,” Oh said. “But today, I wanted to make sure I never let up, even for one point.”
Speaking of intensity, Zelman admittedly suffered a bit of a letdown after realizing the overall match was decided. The senior was still in the process of finishing off rival Danielle Bernstein when Hsu and Javeri ignited a long-awaited Norsewoman celebration.
“I lost focus for a second but I needed to get back into (my own match),” Zelman said. “I was like, ‘I have to do this! I have to do this!’ I couldn’t wait to run over and be with my team.”
North 1, Group 3
Northern Highlands 4, Tenafly 1
The Highlanders won their fifth straight title, getting points from singles players Hannah Apsey and Sarah Rimland and the doubles pairs of Brooke Dann/Isabella Tonuzi and Victoria Chan/Amanda Pittman.
North 1, Group 4
Ridgewood 3, Livingston 2
The Maroons took out Livingston for the second straight year, getting singles wins from Alana Kerner and Sarah Casale and a doubles win from Anika Joshi and Sophia Faherty.
Non-Public, North A
Holy Angels 3, Kent Place 2
The Angels got a heroic effort from the doubles pair of Chennie Kim and Izabella King as they avenged last year’s 3-2 loss to Kent Place. Kim and King edged rivals Amna and Emaan Jan by scores of 2-6, 6-1 and 7-5. Singles players Ashley and Brooke Hess recorded the locals’ other points.