Dawning of a new day for Harriton girls’ tennis

Imagine you are introduced as the new coach of a team that has experienced sustained success over the past decade that has included multiple state championships at the Class AA level along with multiple state tournament appearances at the Class AAA level.

That is exactly what first-year coach David Broida walked into following his appointment as new coach of the Harriton girls’ tennis team. Not only was Broida taking the reins of a successful program, he was doing so after the team advanced to the state quarterfinals and lost several key members of that squad to graduation.

“I was honored to be recruited by a few members of the team, who have been my students the past few years,” said Broida, who coached the JV team at Shipley for five years. “This is my first year as head coach anywhere, and my job was made easier by a terrific Athletic Director, Tom Ferguson, who took care of every detail and by the three co-captains Nell Jones and Gabrielle and Sophia Kontra.  They answered my many questions all season long and they took charge of their captain duties – ordering uniforms, leading the runs and stretching before practice, etc.  I learned from them as I hope the team learned from the constant drills I ran at every practice.

“I have a lot of folks to thank, especially [former Shipley athletic director] Dan Serfass, who got me my start in coaching at Shipley in 2007, and Shipley [varsity] tennis head coach Shannon Hazell, who taught me the ropes.”

As luck would have it, as one door closes another door opens. Behind that door happened to be five freshmen that would end up occupying the three singles positions along with the first doubles team on the ladder that played a pivotal role in Harriton reaching the PIAA State Class AAA tournament.

Following a 5-0 win over Central in the opening regional round, the Rams traveled to an iconic location dubbed the ‘Sweetest Place on Earth’ hoping to return with the hardware. Harriton opened play in Hershey with a convincing win over Hempfield, but Shady Side Academy proved to be too much for the youthful Rams in the semi-finals, ending a magical run in which Harriton lost only one league match and finished third in the district tournament.

“Coming into this season I was not sure what to expect,” said senior co-captain Gabrielle Kontra, who played No. 2 doubles this year with Sonia Groenveld. “We advanced to the state quarterfinals last season and we lost several key members from that team. Fortunately we had talented freshmen who came in and did very well.”

While it can be challenging for freshmen to adapt from middle school to high school, the senior class made sure the freshmen felt like they had been part of the team for years instead of days.

“We knew team bonding was going to be pivotal to our success especially since our team was so young,” Kontra said, following the team’s 5-0 win over Central in the Opening regional round of the PIAA Class AAA state tournament. “We did team dinners and team events to help everyone get to know each other.”

“The seniors have been incredibly important,” said freshman Lauren Binnion, who plays No.1 doubles with sophomore Sofia Kandoussi. “I did not know anyone on the tennis team and was not sure what to expect but they did a great job of making us feel like we have been part of the team for years and not making us feel like freshmen.”

Although the season ended two matches shy of their ultimate goal, the future is certainly looking bright.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply