Arjun Krishnan is sliding down one spot in the singles lineup for the West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North boys’ tennis team, a move that makes the Knights all the more potent this year.
“I’d say our goals are higher,” said Krishnan, a junior who will play second singles. “A lot of good teams that we played last year are losing a lot of their top players. Our schedule might have gotten easier in that sense. We could actually have a better record this year.”
Last year, the Knights went 19-4 and reached the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 state championship before falling to Millburn. Krishnan spent that season at the top of the Knights’ lineup at first singles.
Krishnan isn’t the only WW-P North player on the move. The Knights returned their top three singles players from a year ago, but the addition of freshman Nolan Shah moved each of them down. Shah has come in and won the first singles slot in challenge matches.
“Nolan is amazing,” Krishnan said. “I’ve been hitting with him since I was 9 and he was 7. I’ve known him for a long time. We go to the same place to train. His net game is amazing. He’s just so good up there. He’s always looking to come up as much as possible. His serve is very accurate. He’s a spot server, so he’ll take a spot and serve and volley occasionally. His forehand, he uses his angles very effectively to either get a short ball and come in or win the point off his angles. He has very good touch. He has a good all-around game.”
Krishnan plays a similar style. Below him, Nihal Sidhu will move from second singles last year to third singles this year.
Aditya Bemby, a senior who played third singles last year, is now a valuable doubles player. WW-P North graduated both of its doubles combinations, and it needs talent and experience in the doubles. At first doubles, the Knights have paired junior Sai Koritela with sophomore Martin Long. Bemby will play with a junior, Siva Kuppa. Michael Lin is a junior who also could be used in doubles play this year. The combinations have to come together quickly.
“That’s definitely something we’re working on,” said Knights veteran coach Albert Paulsson. “As they play more matches, I think they’re going to get a little more comfortable out there.”
Outside of the county, the Knights will face challenges from the likes of Moorestown, a team that they beat 3-2 last year. Ultimately, they are hoping that the regular season sets them up for a strong showing in the MCT and in the sectional, where Millburn will again be a favorite, and WW-P North has revenge on its mind.
“That’s definitely one of our goals,” Krishnan said. “This year, we’re focused on winning that match. We’re all ready to take the state finals this year and avenge our loss from last year.”
Krishnan trains at the same place with Shah, and they have focused their training on improving all aspects of their game. “We distribute our shots all around,” Krishnan said.
We’re pretty good all-around players. We tend to practice everything. There’s nothing really specific, but if I had to say one thing it’d be the net game. We’re trying to get to the net as soon as possible because the faster you can get to net, the faster you can end the point.”
WW-P North didn’t give up many games in its first match of the season, and the Knights are hoping that they can do the same match after match if they play up to their expectations.
“It has tremendous potential,” Paulsson said. “I think there’s an opportunity for this team to do very well. We’ll have a lot of tough matches where, we have a lot of new faces to varsity so it’s going to be a test of their composure and their ability to win big points. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”