The Furies dominated the Manhattan Division in their regular season, losing only to Bronx Division champion Bronx Science, and were given the respectable ninth seed entering the PSAL playoffs. In the first round on Wednesday, June 16 they faced off against the Staten Island Tech and McKee Seagulls, who were seeded eighth and thus secured a home court advantage.
“It was a one hour bus ride and some of our players got bus sick, our second doubles were most affected,” senior Anna Lin said.
The taxing commute wasn’t the only reason some of the girls weren’t playing up to par. “I was first singles and my opponent was harder than my opponents in previous games,” freshman and first singles player Karen Huang said. “I was caught by surprise.”
Huang’s teammates shared her sentiment; they felt as if they were caught off guard by the Seagulls as well. “We didn’t really know much about their players because they were from Staten Island so we didn’t really have a reference for how good they are,” said junior Yan Chen, who played in the second singles position.
Chen was able to take an early 11-4 lead, but her opponent, junior Amy Moy, began catching up quickly. The score eventually became tied at 13, which motivated Chen to drive home the victory with high serves, deep balls, and several aces, some of the most active and intense rallies of the game.
“ [Chen] kept in mind that her opponent was a lefty and played strategically, serving and hitting a lot of balls to her opponent’s right side,” senior Nancy Duan said. Chen was able to shut Moy out from then on, and won the match 21-13.
Lin, the third singles player, didn’t have the same luck and couldn’t gather enough momentum to win her match. Her opponent, sophomore Angela Liu, started the match with a strong backhand and took an early 12-2 lead. Lin caught up a little, but couldn’t keep the serve, leading to Liu’s eventual 21- 9 win. “I was confident I’d win, but she served well and I couldn’t return it. Not because she was good but because I was really off that day,” Lin said.
The first doubles team, consisting of Duan and fellow senior and co-captain Wendy Li, displayed one of the strongest performances of the game. Following the trend of their teammates, they fell behind early in the match. But after a timeout and a talk with coach Eric Wisotsky, they returned to the game and won the serve right away. Li served for twenty straight points, making several aces until her opponents finally downed her serve with the score 20-6, one point away from a win.
Duan was able to serve the winning point to secure the win. “Luckily [Li] gave me a sign to serve overhand so I did and their powerside was not able to hit it back to the wall,” Duan said.
“It was an easy win. We just had an iffy start, but once we got our heads in the game, we breezed through it,” Li said. “I was confident in my game because [Duan] is a really good partner and we work well together.”
The second doubles team, sophomore Ada Cen and senior Wendi Law, put up a strong fight despite feeling under the weather, but fell four points short of their opponents. “Our closest game was second doubles. Unfortunately, both players weren’t playing at their best because we took a bus to the game and they felt nauseous afterward,” Li said.
After the match, some Stuyvesant players suspected that the Seagulls may have been guilty of stacking their players, a term that refers to the illegal assignment of a better player or doubles team to a lower rank—guaranteeing them a weaker opponent and a win. “I’m pretty sure Staten Island Tech’s second doubles played better than their first doubles,” Duan said. “Their rallies were by far more intense than the first doubles’ rallies.”
Nonetheless, the loss of the second doubles team led to the Furies’ loss in the game and ultimately the end of their season. “Some of us had no idea what was coming because the Staten Island Division is a division that is completely foreign to us. I personally did not expect to have such a close score and definitely did not see the loss coming,” Duan said.
For the past three seasons, the Furies have at least made it into the second round of the playoffs. However, the combination of not knowing what kind of a team they were facing, having a sick second doubles team, and the absence of injured senior and co-captain Emily Liang led to an unexpected loss in the first round.