Colonia High School girls’ varsity tennis season finishes off with 18-1


Photo Credit: Permission from Khelsey Eunice Dy

Sherman and Manalo in the process of playing a doubles match. This duo won all of their doubles matches.

By: Daniella Albuquerque, Reporter

On Oct. 21, 2022, Colonia high school girls´ varsity tennis team ended their season 18-1 with their only loss being to Scotch Plains-Fanwood during the NJSIAA Tournament, Quarterfinal Round, North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3. This gave the ladies a higher seed in the Great Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament.  

The girls´ tennis team is coached by Jessica Lee, who is also the sprinting coach of winter and spring track. Lee ran in college. When asked why she decided to take up the responsibility for the girls´ tennis team she said, ¨The girl´s tennis coaching job kinda fell into my lap. When I was hired, they were in need of a coach that wanted to support the team and be there for the girls, so I decided to take on that role.¨ Ever since then, Coach Lee has been coaching tennis for four years.

Coach Lee admitted that she didn’t have any previous knowledge of tennis when she took on the job, but she learned more about the sport over the years. With the outcome of this season, Coach Lee has some hopes for the future team. She would like it if they were able to win a sectional championship, and/or have a higher placement in the GMC tournament. 

Who is on the varsity team?

The varsity team members consist of Veronica Komorek (junior), first singles; Gabriella Komorek (freshman), second singles; Nicolette Baksay (sophomore), third singles; Shayrra Manalo (senior) and Angelle Sherman, playing first doubles; Nifemi Olufowobi (junior) and Kristy Lai (sophomore), playing second doubles; Raena Patel (junior) playing alternates.

Sherman was undefeatable this season, by playing both doubles and second singles. Before this season, Sherman played second singles for the first two years of her high school experience. Last year Sherman had three losses throughout the season. She admitted that playing singles is more of her style. When it comes to playing doubles, Sherman let on that one of the most important things to have is good communication. Even at times when it gets rough, you and your partner should try and keep a positive attitude.  When asked how she was prepared to be undefeated, Sherman responded with, ¨ I did not do much. I meditated and focused on the positives and kept a healthy diet.¨

How did the GMC tournament go?

In the middle of the tennis season, the GMC tournament took place at Thomas Edison Park, on Sep. 28, 2022. First, second, third, and first doubles did not need to participate in the preliminary. The reason why is because they were already seeded, but second doubles weren´t.  In the first set of Olufowobi and Lai vs. Spotswood, Lai´s arm stretched too far back when she was trying to hit a forehand. In doing so, she dislocated her right shoulder. At that moment, Lai said she was more shocked than scared. Coach Lee was by her side in a matter of minutes with the paramedic. 

The paramedic did his magic and had put Lai´s shoulder back in place. She had to sit out and ice her shoulder for a few minutes. The paramedic then asked Lai to attempt to do external rotation movements.  When Lai attempted to do the motions, her arm popped out once more. She was then advised not to play. This led her and Olufowobi to forfeit from the match. 

In the days following, the doctors told Lai that she was not able to play tennis.  They said that she needed to rest her arm for two months before going into physical therapy. With this injury, Lai felt like she missed out on the rest of her season, and said, ¨This was my first year in varsity, so I was really excited about it…but then this happened…I am thankful for how much support I was getting from everybody, it was just nice [team].¨ Next year, Lai plans to get back on varsity. By doing so, she will practice over the summer. 

First round of GMC, day one:

First singles: Veronica Komorek vs. North Plainfield (6-0, 6-0)

Second singles: Gabriella Komorek vs. Wardlaw (6-0, 6-1)

Third singles: Baksay vs. Metuchen (6-0, 6-0)

First doubles: Manalo and Sherman vs. Woodbridge (6-1, 6-1)

Second round of GMC, day one:

First singles: Veronica Komorek vs. Old Bridge (6-0, 6-2)

Second singles: Gabriella Komorek vs. Old Bridge (6-0, 6-0)

Third singles: Baksay vs. Monroe (6-0, 6-3)
First doubles: Manalo and Sherman vs. JPS (1-6, 5-7)

Semifinal, GMC day two:

First singles: Veronica Komorek vs. Anagha Shankar EB (1-6, 2-6)

Second singles: Gabriella Komorek vs. Manasi Vartak JPS (4-6, 2-6)

Third singles: Baksay vs. Richa Shah EB (2-6, 6-0)

Finals, GMC day three:

 Veronica Komorek won fourth place in first singles

Gabriella Komorek won third place in second singles

Baksay won third place in third singles


The last week of the season

With one week left of the season, both Komoreks transferred to JPS. The whole team ended up going up two positions. Now in first singles was Baksay; second: Sherman; third: Manalo; first doubles: Olufowobi and Patel; second doubles: Parikh. Though these were big spots to fill in, both Baksay and Manalo enjoyed the challenge. On this topic, Manalo stated, ¨It honestly made me really nervous playing third singles the last week of the season because I knew it would be a lot of pressure, considering we were undefeated. I prefer to play singles on the courts because…I like the competitiveness side of me, and that shows a lot more when I’m playing singles.¨

Even though the team lost two important members, the girls rose to the occasion by winning the last three games of the season.