H.S.girls tennis: Passaic County crown on the line
PARAMUS – It took two weeks of aggressive therapy for Kasja Sisojevic to recover from a pulled groin. As much as her injury hurt, the idea of not defending her Passaic County tennis crown hurt worse.
On Tuesday, the Passaic Valley senior showed herself to be fit again as she advanced to today’s first-singles final.
“I was pretty nervous and not very confident,” Sisojevic said. “But the confidence came back when I started playing.
“I played on Sunday and it didn’t hurt anymore. The injury was gone.”
Sisojevic knocked off Wayne Valley’s Rebecca Wong, 6-2, 6-3, in the semifinals. She’ll meet Wayne Hills’ Vanessa Herrera, who bested Pompton Lakes’ Carolyn Zhang, 6-1, 6-2.
While Sisojevic was comfortable ripping shots from the baseline, Herrera used every inch of the court in taking out Zhang. The Wayne Hills senior came to the net constantly and almost put away the match with one of her trademark smashes.
“I enjoy running around the court, so I love going against players who move me around,” Herrera said. “When my [overhead] goes in it’s a nice feeling. But when it hits that net, it’s a little frustrating.”
Herrera lost to Sisojevic in last year’s final. She lost all three of their meetings in 2013, but won their one match earlier this season.
“It’s always tough to play her,” Herrera said. “She’s very consistent and very tough, mentally and physically.
“But like my coach always says, if your opponent hits five balls back, you’ve got to hit six.”
Zhang couldn’t match Herrera’s rate of return. She played a solid match, though, rarely beating herself.
“Vanessa’s net play was really good,” Zhang said. “It was frustrating, but you try different strategies against it and see what works.
“I kept pushing myself and I played a good match.”
Over the past two years, Zhang won county titles in first doubles and second singles. She said reaching the first-singles semifinals meant more.
Like Zhang, Wong wrapped up her county career with a solid effort. The Wayne Valley senior said it always takes her a long time to warm up, and she often loses the first set as a result. Against a player of Sisojevic’s caliber, that doesn’t bode well.
“Kasja hit a lot more winners than I did,” Wong said. “She did a better job hitting angles and faster-paced shots.
“I wasn’t moving my feet or running down balls in the first set. By the time I got it going, it was too late.”
Today’s second-singles final features former county doubles champions. Wayne Valley senior Jen Harrison won the second doubles title last year, while Wayne Hills’ Abbey Tremonte won it two years ago.
“I played Jen before [in singles] and lost,” Tremonte said. “But I’m playing a lot better now, so it should be a good match.”
“Singles is a lot more work, but I enjoy doing it on my own,” Harrison said. “I’d love to win. It would be a great memory.”