Upper Merion girls tennis wins second straight

UPPER MERION >> After starting the season with three straight losses, the Upper Merion girls tennis team is starting to hit its stride. The Lady Vikings beat Norristown Wednesday, 7-0, for its second consecutive shutout win after blanking Archbishop Carroll, 5-0, Tuesday.

“I think it’s just more practice,” head coach Philippe David said of his team putting together a couple wins after stumbling out of the gate. “It was a slow start to the season. It was a week shorter preseason than usual and I think that hurt us a little bit. We’re back in our groove now and looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Upper Merion’s top player, junior Amy Phanthavong, defeated Norristown junior Hannah Markley in the first singles match, 6-0, 6-2. The two traded a number of nice volleys, but for the most part Phanthavong was in control throughout the match. She hit a handful of aces and kept Markley moving side to side as she continued her strong start to the season.

“She definitely has some pedigree and with her age she has gotten better and better each year,” David said of Phanthavong, who has played tennis at Upper Merion all three years and has only lost once this season. “She is really hitting her stride with that little bit of extra practice she has done this summer.

“Her consistency and her ability to use her power to her advantage in a situation where some of the girls might not be able to handle it — I think that consistency and power combined is the reason that she is doing so well.”

Upper Merion won all four matches against Norristown. Senior Caitlin Dwinell won the second singles match, 6-2, 6-0, against junior Taylor Walker, freshman Sahar Islam won the third singles math 6-3, 6-1 against junior Naomi Dillon and juniors Sophie Shuter-Gomez and Marlena Ruser won the first doubles match, 6-1, 6-0 against seniors Brandy Gipe and Naijah Powell.

A little more than a week into the month-long regular season, David has high expectations for the Vikings.

“My expectations are to try to compete against everyone in the league,” the coach said. “We’ve got some really strong teams, but we have the team this year, the experience that we can do that if we stay focused and win some out of conference matches as well.”

Upper Merion started the season with a couple of close losses — 4-3 defeat against Upper Moreland and 5-2 against Plymouth Whitemarsh — and a 7-0 loss to Phoenixville before winning its last two games.

The Vikings are back in action Friday at home against Wissahickon at 10 a.m. Norristown returns to the court Friday on the road against Cheltenham at 3:30 p.m.

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