In the gym at Lenape High School there are banners celebrating sectional, conference and state titles from teams past. The banner for the girls’ tennis team hadn’t changed since 1992.
Time to update the banner.
Lenape won its first South Jersey Group IV title in 22 years with a 3–2 win over №1 seed Cherry Hill East on Tuesday, Oct. 14.
“Our girls would see that banner hanging in the gym and they took note of that. They put it on themselves and said ‘we have to get something on that banner,” head coach John Carnevale said.
Second singles player Shannon McCarthy, third singles Smriti Nair and first doubles Alexis Cao and Gabrielle Shvartsman were the match winners for Lenape in the championship match.
Cherry Hill East represented a familiar foe, as it was the Cougars who dispatched Lenape in the sectional final a season ago and were responsible for the only two losses the Indians experienced in the regular season.
“We were in the sectional final a season ago so it wasn’t a new experience for us and East is not a new opponent for us. We had practiced really well and our girls were up and excited for that matchup again,” Carnevale said.
Lenape lost only one of its top seven players from last year’s team, which instilled confidence in this year’s group. Adding to that confidence was the addition of McCarthy, a freshman standout, at second singles.
“The team sensed we got stronger this year with another year of experience for all of them. I told them from the get go we have all the talent in the world, it’s how bad they want it,” Carnevale said.
First singles player and senior Lauren Gershman took it upon herself to become a leader this season Carnevale said.
“Lauren definitely embraced the role of being a senior leader for our team. She knew Shannon had the potential to be a special player this season and really took to helping her throughout the year,” Carnevale said.