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A #1 Season for Pingry’s Tennis Program
Pingry’s tennis program is enjoying remarkable success this year, and their winning streak just keeps going. From the girls’ undefeated tennis performance in the fall that led to their #1 ranking in the NJ.com Top 20, to the boys’ current #1 ranking by NJ.com and Tuesday’s third consecutive Somerset County Tournament championship, the program has been recognized throughout the state as an outstanding place for tennis players to excel. The accumulating victories and accolades are extensive, and include the girls tennis team being #1 in the Skyland Conference, County Champions, NJ.com Team of the Year, and finishing with a perfect record of 14-0; as well as the boys tennis team, which remains undefeated at 8-0, and, for the first time in Pingry’s history, has won the prestigious Bryan Bennett Tournament, held annually at Delbarton. And they are not done yet.
Coach Marion Weber came to Pingry in the 2010-11 season and put together a “tentative 10-year plan” to build up the program, with a focus on creating a “seamless transition” from Middle School to Upper School. “I always wanted to give back to the sport, and I love coaching,” she says. Coming from a tennis-playing family, she was a natural athlete and won her first tennis tournament at age nine. “From then on, it was clear that tennis was going to be a part of my life forever,” she says. She went on to be a top singles and doubles player on the junior circuit, as well as a professional tour player. As a competitive tennis player, Coach Weber brings a depth of experience and understanding to her coaching. “I get to see everything from all different sides because I’ve been there. So I understand what players go through.”
With an emphasis on “hard work, excellence, setting expectations, and the precise planning and preparation to achieve one’s goals”, Pingry’s tennis program has soared under her leadership. And by cultivating a spirit of community, the tennis players thrive not only as competitive athletes, but also as teammates and friends. Coach Weber has a clear goal of fostering excellence on and off the court. “I hope that everyone who takes part in the tennis program develops not only tennis skills, but life experiences and wonderful memories as they move on to college and beyond.”
What has elevated Pingry’s tennis program to #1 this year? Coach Weber points to the fact that the players have all grown up in the program, playing together at Pingry through the Middle School and into the Upper School. For Varsity Captain Asher Matthias ’23, who is heading to Princeton in the fall, he credits the program’s success to stellar coaching and a team that knows each other well. “The program as a whole, starting from Middle School and going into high school, whether it’s JV or varsity or the middle school level, develops you as a player and helps you meet new people and develop a really close knit group of guys that you’re friends with, and guys that will help inspire you and make you work really hard—it’s helped my life in multiple aspects,” he says, before adding that being captain for two years in a row has taught him “invaluable lessons about leadership that I’ll hold for the rest of my life.”
For Aviv Cohen ’24, it’s the depth of talent within the program that makes it so competitive—and so formidable to opponents. “Our second doubles or our first doubles or even our alternates could easily play top spots on other teams,” he says. “It’s really the depth of the team that makes the difference.” Aviv believes the combination of high expectations and competitive camaraderie pushes each player to excel. “At the end of the day, we’re friends,” he says, “but we’re also competing for those spots. So I think we push each other to get better.” Ultimately, the athletic excellence and foundation of friendship have been key. As Aviv observes, “the fact that we know each other better from year to year, and that we’re a good team of friends and we have the same common goal as a team of nine friends to do better and better each year, and to beat our rivals like Newark Academy and try to keep the number one spot” has been the differentiating factor that took a stellar program to new heights.
As the winning boys season unfolds, Coach Weber continues to push the players to hone their skills and work as a team. “Tennis is such an individual sport,” she says. “How do you get your teammates on board to compete in a position on your team that may not necessarily be where they want to play, but it’s what’s best for the team as a whole?” To reinforce this perspective, she turns to Pingry’s Honor Code to remind the players of what is important. “It talks about teamwork, sportsmanship, hard work, self-discipline, and, more importantly, how we should work together for the common good, rather than solely for personal advantage. That is what I have tried to do,” she says. “And that is the reason both our teams have now reached new heights—because they are working together in the spirit of the team.”
Top photo: Pingry's Boys Varsity Tennis team after winning the Bryan Bennett Memorial Tournament
Middle photo: Asher Matthias
Bottom photo: Aviv Cohen
Contact: Sara Courtney, Communications Writer
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