RANDOLPH _ In Charlotte, N.C., where Bridgette Hickey used to attend Providence High School, there was no county tennis tournament.
Hickey's team went up against each team in the conference once. The top two squads from the league went on to the states. Hickey, now wearing Chatham's navy blue and white, said her former team played roughly 10 matches per season.
The Cougars' schedule is a bit more rigorous and includes, of course, the Morris County Tournament.
Hickey, a junior, got her first taste of the MCT on Saturday, Sept. 28 and enjoyed herself. Making the experience better was the fact that Hickey earned herself a spot in the semifinals by breezing through her initial two matches at third singles. She won each match, 10-0.
"Today has been fun. I like it," said Hickey, who defeated Mount Olive's Jillian Davis and Pequannock's Krista Mennella in the first and second rounds, respectively. "I was a little nervous to start with but I'm good now."
Action resumes on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. with the semifinals. The finals will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the last semifinal. All matches will be played at the County College of Morris in Randolph.
After the first day of competition at CCM and Brundage Park, Hickey and the Cougars were tied with Montville and three-time defending champion Mendham. Montville was the runner-up last fall.
Hickey, who held the first singles position at Providence, arrived in Chatham in August. The family moved because her father, Jason, was transferred. Her freshman sister, Laurel, teams up with Katie Howard-Johnson at second doubles. They, too, advanced to the MCT semifinals.
Bridgette Hickey, the third seed, has a solid game, delivering accurate groundstrokes and covering the court well. She'll need to be on for her semifinal match against Montville sophomore Erin Sanzone, a third singles finalist last fall.
Cougars freshman Scarlett Blydenburg, the No. 2 seed, moved on at first singles with victories over Whippany Park's Emily Lin and Morristown's Meghan Acampora. At second singles, another Chatham freshman, Sophia Fredriksson, triumphed, dispatching Morris Hills' Laura Ng and St. Elizabeth's Tiffany Hsi.
First doubles, too, has a berth in the semis. Top-seeded Emily Sroczynski and Alison Ramsland cruised, ousting Parsippany Hills' Sapana Gupta and Rianna Modi and Morristown-Beard's Jordyn Block and Yasmine Shafai.
Allison Reiling of Morristown-Beard prevailed in her first match at first singles before running into Kirsten Godau of Montville. Godau, the runner-up to Jamie Campisi in the 2012 MCT, beat Reiling, 10-2. It was Reiling's second setback this season.
"I thought I played well," Reiling said. "I was consistent and had good groundstrokes and angles."
Reiling, a semifinalist at third singles as a sophomore, made the leap to first singles. She noted that there is a great deal of difference in the level of play and that her only objective was "to do my best."
"There's a lot of good people here," said Reiling, also a member of the swim team. "I just figured that I have nothing to lose."
St. Elizabeth's Nadia Olesnycky had a chance to avenge her only loss when she clashed with Mountain Lakes' Emily Krupnick at first singles. However, Olesnycky made her exit in the quarterfinals, losing to Krupnick, 10-5.
Lauren Corvo, the Panthers' coach, still has high hopes for Olesnycky, who did not play for Morristown-Beard last season, opting to attend a tennis academy.
"Nadia has made the team so much stronger," Corvo said. "She helps the team's morale and boosts everyone's game. The other girls look to her as a leader and try to get better. The biggest change in her game from last year to this year is that she's not waiting for something to happen. She's driving the points on offense. Nadia also has a wider range of strokes."
All of Mendham's players got through the initial two rounds, including singles players Lauren Hassell, Lauren Hernandez and Katie Gutknecht. All five of Montville's positions remain alive as well.
Gutknecht, a senior, is defending her third singles crown. Hernandez was the champion at first doubles with Veronika Fojtu. Mendham, which has claimed the last three MCT titles and 10 of the last 12, hopes to keep its streak going.
"We have a big challenge in front of us," Mendham assistant coach Karen McCourt said. "It comes down to the mental strength of the players. The girls have to have the desire to win this. They have to be strong."
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