Eight Juniors Capture 2023 Sectional Titles
AMHERST, MA – An action-packed four days of top-notch junior tennis commenced on Tuesday, June 20 at Amherst College, as eight players took home the ultimate prize in New England – Junior Sectionals Champion.
Petro Kuzmenok, Anna Nguyen and Leah Zheng all earned their second consecutive Sectionals title, while Lucas Bikkesbakker, Elana Zaretsky, Morgan Rich, Oliver Ham and Olivia Lin claimed their first.
Junior Sectionals kicked off with a player dinner on Friday, June 16 at Northampton’s Union Station, and was followed by tournament play at nearby Smith College, Hampshire College and indoor rain sites: East Hartford Racquet Club, the Tennis and Fitness Center of Rocky Hill and Enfield Tennis Club. The finals were exclusively played at Amherst College.
Petro Kuzmenok (Fairfield, CT) dominated the Boys’ 18s division, rolling through his 32-player draw without dropping a set. The defending division champ and No. 1 seed took down the No. 6 seed, Bobby Cooper, in the quarterfinals, the No. 3 seed, Kaiaitz Mendibe in a rematch of the 2022 semifinals, and No. 7, Lukas Phimvongsa, in the final.
Kuzmenok, a rising senior, has committed to play DI tennis at Rice University.
Anna Nguyen swept through the Girls’ 18s draw, securing her second straight title in the division. The top seeded Nguyen also did not lose a set the entire tournament and took down three seeded players en route to her championship.
In the quarterfinals, she endured her toughest set of the weekend against No. 7 Gusty Beveridge. Nguyen scraped past Beveridge in the tight first set, 7-5, and finished the second, 6-0. She then defeated No. 3 Olivia Cutone for the second time in as many Sectionals (2022 finals), 6-4, 6-3, before rolling past the No. 6 seeded Isabella Camacho in the finals, 6-1, 6-2.
Anna is also a rising senior and has committed to play Division I at Princeton University.
For winning, both Kuzmenok and Nguyen earned an automatic bid to the 2023 18s National Championships in August.
Leah Zheng, who won the 2022 Sectional Championship in Girls’ 14s, had no trouble repeating this year in the Girls’ 16s division. The No. 1 seed from New Canaan, CT, didn’t give up more than four games in a single set throughout and took down No. 5 seed Katie Driscoll, her only seeded opponent, in the title match.
The Boys’ 16s division was arguably the most contested draw of the tournament, featuring a first-round upset, a former champ going down and a 7 vs. 8 finals matchup.
Champion Lucas Bikkesbakker, of Concord, MA, was the main beneficiary of top seeded Kiran Raval’s first-round defeat. The No. 7 Bikkesbakker didn’t see a ranked opponent until the final, where he matched up against Koray Abramson (No. 8). Abramson also defeated No. 2 seed and 2022 Boys’ 14s champion, Omar Rhazali, in his semifinal matchup, creating the unlikely 7/8 battle.
After taking the first set, 6-3, Bikkesbakker had the chance to serve out the match up 5-2. Abramson fought back to win the next three games, including two breaks, but Bikkesbakker was ultimately too strong and took the second, 7-5. He won more three-set matches than anyone in the tournament’s main draw (3).
Zheng and Bikkesbakker both earned spots on the New England Battle of the Sections team in late July.
After three near victories, Elana Zaretsky broke through to capture the Girls’ 14s division title. Zaretsky fell in the finals of the 12s and 14s divisions the past three Sectionals, but this year, as the top seed and easily the most dominant player in the draw, she was almost untouchable.
Zaretsky won every set she played and didn’t appear to run any serious trouble until the final. There, she defeated No. 2 seeded Rachel White, 6-0, in the first set, but it took a second-set tiebreak to earn her championship, just sneaking by White, 8-6 in the breaker.
Morgan Rich, of Wayland, MA, had no trouble running through the Boys’ 14s field to capture his first Sectional title. The top-seeded Rich defeated No. 8 seed Will Meyer in the semifinals and took down No. 2 Noah Richer, 6-1, 6-4 in the championship match.
Top seeded Oliver Ham earned his first Sectional championship in the Boys’ 12s division. Ham, of Hollis, NH, beat No. 3 seed Tony Xu, in the semis, and then No. 4 seed, Evaan Mohan in the final.
Following a three-hour Sectionals semifinal defeat in 2022, Olivia Lin earned her first Sectional title in the Girls’ 12s field. The No. 1 seed, Lin, of Lexington MA, won each of her first three matches by the impressive mark of 6-0, 6-1, including against No. 7 Danielle Baghdady in the quarterfinals. She then took down No. 6 seeded Heidi Wang, 6-3, 6-3 in the semis, before earning the title against Alana Berry via a walkover (illness).
Tournament coverage, including full results, photos, videos and social media, can be found below:
Results – Tournament homepage
On-site coverage (part 1) – Instagram
On-site coverage (part 2) – Instagram
Day 4 photo gallery (part 3) – Instagram
Day 3 photo gallery – Facebook
Day 3 photo gallery (part 1) – Instagram
Day 3 photo gallery (part 2) – Instagram
Day 3 photo gallery (part 3) – Instagram
Day 2 photo gallery – Facebook
Day 2 photo gallery (part 1) – Instagram
Day 2 photo gallery (part 2) – Instagram
Day 2 photo gallery (part 3) – Instagram