Moorestown girls’ tennis team victorious against Haddonfield

Eight squads competed in the township’s fall tennis classic

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/South Jersey Sports Weekly: Kaitlyn Burkhardt, a number three singles player on the Moorestown High School girls tennis team, competes in the township’s fall tennis classic on Sept. 11.

The Moorestown High School tennis team had a record of 20-5 last year, earning two championships, the Burlington County Liberty Division and the SJ Sectional.

Steve Dickerson, the Quakers’ varsity tennis coach, looked forward to seeing the team compete on Sept. 11 in the annual township fall tennis classic, a two-day tournament that brings together eight seeded teams from all over the state.

The tournament is an opportunity for players to have a successful remainder of the season as well as prepare for state competition. The last time the Quakers won was in 2015, with Cherry Hill East declared runner-up.

With all high-school sports put on hold because of COVID last year, the team was unable to compete in the fall contest, whose early rounds enable teams to play against competitors and individuals they would not normally face during the season.

Dickerson was ecstatic to see the classic come back this summer, and with social- distancing and health guidelines put in place, the team faced off against seven individual teams in three rounds of singles and two rounds of doubles: Haddonfield, Kent Place, Moorestown Friends, Schalick, Westfield, West Windsor Plainsboro North and West Windsor Plainsboro South.

“We had to cancel it last year,” the coach recalled. “They didn’t want big groups getting together, so for the first time ever, they canceled it. That was a bummer, so we were happy to be back … It was super crowded and the energy was high, and it was a lot of fun getting back to business.”

The Quakers competed on Sept. 11 in two matches against West Windsor-Plainsboro North and Schalick. The team had a win against Schalick 5-0, with seniors Lia Streibich, Maya Butani, Kaitlyn Burkhart, Charlotte Morrison, Laura Sullivan, sophomore Erica Zhang and junior Priya Panganamamula playing intense and groundbreaking singles and doubles.

“This year, we do have a lot of experience on the team and we have five seniors on the starting lineup, so we’re improving as we go,” Dickerson noted. “Even this match, the match that we played this weekend, we have a lot to work on. But I loved how mentally tough we were.”

“Mentally, we’re getting stronger with the experience.”

On Sept. 12, the Quakers landed in fifth place in the tournament against Haddonfield, with a winning score of 4-1. Haddonfield High School girls tennis coach Jeff Holman looked forward to seeing Haddonfield and Moorestown compete against one another, as two teams who have a deep history of engaging in friendly competition.

“We’ve had a long tradition of playing at Moorestown, against Moorestown’s teams, and Moorestown always has a very strong program,” Holman said. “They’re very deep with a lot of very good players, and so it really gives everyone on the team a great opportunity to be tested and to see how they respond to the challenges of a tough opponent.”

The Quakers proved at the classic that they are tough competitors and Dickerson is hopeful the team will spend the majority of the season making technical adjustments.

“A lot of the girls have a good plan A, but when it comes to a tough opponent and it’s not working, they sometimes have trouble shifting over to a different strategy,” Dickerson explained.

“That is something that we are going to continue to work on, but we are getting better at it also.”