BergenTechBergen Tech coach John Yselonia had a lot of adversity to deal with in the 2016 season.  For starters, the Knights had to live up to high expectations. Sitting at 8-3 with a sixth-place finish in the Bergen County Tournament (large schools) due to a limited lineup, things weren't ideal for Yselonia and his group.  Look at all Bergen Tech had to endure, however.   At first singles, nationally ranked Hibah Shaikh was limited in play due to United States Tennis Association events around the country.  When Shaikh did play, which was a total of eight varsity matches, she didn't lose very much, going 7-1 in that stretch.  Then there was a pair of seniors in second-singles Casey Chiang, and third-singles Valerie Rome.   They, too, were busy traveling around for college visits and such. Both Shaikh and Chiang missed the county tournament, and Rome began the season ill.  Yselonia didn't have a steady lineup for various reasons.  Still, there was time to "turn the season around" and live up to the hype.  "It was expectation of playing well without our No. 1 and a full lineup," Yselonia said. "The girls still believed. This was the seniors' last chance at a sectional title.  That was on their mind."  Bergen Tech entered the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 tournament as the fourth seed. The first match came up against 13th-seeded North Bergen, a 5-0 victory for the Knights.  In that match, Chiang moved up to first singles, and the lineup still wasn't complete. In a 4-1 victory over Randolph in the sectional quarterfinals, the lineup was still varied, with Chiang playing first singles, Rome playing second and Kyra Acquah stepping in at third.  The only constant appeared to be the first-doubles pair of Antonia Liu and Nicole Skakun.  Bergen Tech, awaiting its stiffest test all season in the sectional semifinals against top-seeded Ridgewood, now had its full lineup.  In that match, Shaikh handily won at first singles, Rome won in straight sets at third singles and Liu and Skakun took the match at first doubles. A 3-2 result against a quality team was just what Yselonia and his group needed.  "We played Ridgewood the past five to six years," Yselonia said. "I'm sure we played them at least four times in the semifinals or the finals. The matches are always close. We thought that was the important match, being that they were the No. 1 seed and we lost to them a couple times in the past years. That was a big match for us." With coach John Yselonia on the left, the Bergen Tech girls tennis team poses with the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 title after defeating Morristown in the final Oct. 18. (Photo courtesy of Peter Ohanyan)

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