Peglegs Show Improvement Despite Early Loss

The Peglegs look to recover from 4-1 loss to Millennium High School.

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By Zoraiz Irshad

The Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity table tennis team, started their season strong with a decisive win against McKee/Staten Island Technical High School. Seniors and co-captains Katherine Lee and Allison Eng dominated in their matches while the duos of underclassmen, featuring freshman Madison Cheng and sophomores Lolita Rozenbaum, Shiho Watanabe, and Julianna Yu, easily defeated their opponents in the doubles matches. Their next game, however, proved to be a bigger challenge.

The Peglegs faced their biggest competitors, defending champions Millennium High School, in the second game of the season. Unfortunately, the Peglegs were outmatched and were handed their first loss of the season in a 4-1 win by Millennium. All four wins by Millennium were blowouts, with each match resulting in a 3-0 loss for the Peglegs. However, Eng won her second singles match 3-2.

Despite the tough loss, the game marked a significant improvement from the 5-0 losses the Peglegs suffered against Millennium last season. Eng’s win against the school may be the spark that the team needs in order to keep progressing and improving through the season. “It seems like we’re better [than we were] last year,” coach Emilio Nieves said. “We managed to win a game from them. Last year, they shut us out both times that we played them, so we certainly have the ability, but we just have to continue to keep playing.” It is still early in the season, so with more experience, the team will keep improving.

The Peglegs still need improvement if they want to beat Millenium and pursue the Division I title. Under the leadership of Lee and Eng, as well as with their athleticism and the desire to win, coach Nieves believes that the Peglegs have the capabilities to beat Millenium by the time the playoffs roll around. “We know that we have the physical ability to beat them,” he said. “They’re very fundamentally sound, so I think playing them has focused them on what we need to do to try to beat a team like that.” The Peglegs are looking forward to their next match against Millennium later this month, which will be key to their chances of making a championship push this season.

More than just a glimpse of hope, the loss against Millennium also revealed some of the Peglegs’ weaknesses, allowing them to hone in on certain skills. “[Our] first doubles are really good, young players: Lolita Rozenbaum and Madison Cheng. They can learn how to cut because a lot of the serves we face in the game are cutting, and they weren't able to properly return [them]. With practice, it can easily be fixed,” Eng said. Coach Nieves has emphasized the importance of being able to return serves in practice, especially [receiving] different types of spins. The Peglegs are good all-around players with a lot of potential, but in an individual and double sport, they will need to refine and master their technical skills in order to beat the competition.

Captains Eng and Lee have been crucial both as players and as captains. They have both played with the majority of their teammates for at least a year, creating an intimate bond between captains and athletes. Coach Nieves has depended on their input on ways to improve during practice and believes that they have the same end goal: to get better and perfect their game.

With hard work, the desire to win, and the willingness to make sacrifices, coach Nieves believes that the team has a shot at surpassing Millennium and reclaiming the division title. “If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?” he asked, quoting former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath. With this mindset and guidance from Eng and Lee, the young team is looking forward to a very competitive and exciting season.