Senior Alivia Chaloupka and sophomore Kierstyn Fenimore won the Olympic Conference Patriot Division doubles tournament Wednesday at Eastern Regional High School.
Seneca High School senior Alivia Chaloupka and sophomore Kierstyn Fenimore may be two grades apart, but the pair has been a perfect match for the Golden Eagles’ girls tennis team in 2018.
Chaloupka and Fenimore reached double-digits in wins this week, with their 12th victory being their biggest yet. The Seneca players defeated Timber Creek Regional High School’s first doubles team of Jordan Ecret and Tatum Stielow 7–6 (8–6) 6–4 to win the Olympic Conference Patriot Division doubles title, their first-ever tournament win.
Chaloupka and Fenimore are two new starters on this year’s Seneca team. The Golden Eagles lost most of their starting lineup from the previous season, including nearly all of their first and second doubles players. This left many of the positions up for grabs in August. At the end of preseason challenge matches, Chaloupka and Fenimore were paired at second doubles, something both players were thrilled about.
“We were hoping to be with each other,” Chaloupka said.
Chaloupka and Fenimore’s games complement each other well. Fenimore’s biggest strength is her ability to hit the ball hard, and the duo is at its best when Fenimore is playing deep and Chaloupka is playing near the net.
“She definitely has the power,” Chaloupoka said. “I calm the storm.”
“It’s a good balance,” Fenimore added.
Chaloupka and Fenimore’s success can be seen in their 2018 record. Prior to the start of the Olympic Conference Tournament on Tuesday, the duo has amassed a 7–1 record at second doubles in the Golden Eagles’ regular season matches. The pair’s only loss came against Cherokee High School on Sept. 13.
Despite their success, the duo didn’t consider themselves favorites heading into the conference tournament. The duo received the №4 seed in the bracket.
“We thought we possibly could (win the tournament) if we worked hard,” Chaloupka said. “We never had our mind set on it.”
Seneca easily advanced to day two after receiving a first round bye and then sweeping past Timber Creek’s second doubles team of Alyssa Giardano and Julia Louie in the quarterfinals. The biggest challenge came in the semifinals, when Chaloupka and Feminore had to play the №1 seeded team of Brenna Sharky and Veronica Moore from Paul VI High School.
“I was kind of nervous, because we knew Paul VI was higher up than us and we were playing higher people, so it was kind of nerve-wracking,” Fenimore said.
The teams split the the first two sets of the semifinal, forcing the match to be decided in a 10-point tiebreaker. Seneca found itself facing match point when it fell behind, 9–8, in the tiebreaker. Despite this, Chaloupka said she and Fenimore weren’t too worried.
“You just stay positive,” Chaloupka said about being down in the semifinal. “Making sure you’re calm is key.”
“Tennis such a mind game,” Chaloupka later added. “You just have to stay in it.”
Seneca recovered, winning three straight points to win the tiebreaker, 11–9, and pull off the upset over Paul VI.
Seneca had to face another tiebreaker in the final against Timber Creek after the first set ended in a 6–6 tie. Seneca won the first set tiebreaker, 8–6 and avoided any other tiebreakers by taking the second set 6–4 to win the title.
“It was a long day,” Chaloupka said. “Our last match was very long too with tiebreakers and everything. We’re glad it’s over.”
Chaloupka and Fenimore hope there are more victories on the horizon. Seneca’s 7–1 record ranks it among the best teams in South Jersey Group II, and the pair believes the Golden Eagles have the talent to possibly advance to a second straight sectional final appearance this season.