VOORHEES – When Ashwin Ramesh was a younger player he watched as his brother Brashante led the Eastern High School boys tennis team to a Group 4 state championship.
He was impressed by what he had seen.
“I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Ramesh said. “I’ve always looked up to him.”
If early indications mean anything, Ramsesh may be in a position where he can make history repeat. Now in his third season as the Vikings’ No. 1 singles player; Ramesh got off to a good start to the campaign.
On Sunday, he recorded a 6-0, 6-0 win over Haddonfield’s Teo Lupinetti to win the Camden County Championship singles title on his home court.
Eastern coach George Kemery was impressed by the way Ramesh handled himself. His performance inspired the coach to look ahead to the possibility of a great season.
“He comes from a tennis family,” Kemery said. “His brother was a champion and the way he’s playing it looks like he’s going to try and repeat that.
“His strokes were laser. To go `0-0-‘ against a good Haddonfield team is really amazing. I’m really proud of him.”
Even though Ramesh has been playing since his pre-teens years, this will be somewhat of a comeback season for him. He estimates he lost two-thirds of his junior year to a broken ankle.
The injury was a blow to him because he said he was looking forward to the season.
“I was excited because I had a growth spurt between my sophomore and junior year,” he said. “I was a lot taller and a lot stronger, so I was looking forward to that year a lot. We had a very big senior class who I was very close to, and I was hoping to make a deep playoff run with them.”
Ramesh returned for the state tournament, but he says he wasn’t at his best for the post season. He sees that problem as being behind him now. He’s healthy and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
“We’ve made a deep run into the playoffs every year since I’ve been here, the obvious goal would to be to win a state championship,” he said. “I think we do have the squad to do it. From a personal standpoint to make it to the state tournament in singles would be perfect in my eyes. But the team comes first, obviously.”
Kemery is optimistic that Ramesh can accomplish all of his goals. He sees Ramesh as a player who has worked hard on improving something about his game every season.
“Every year he’s picked something new to overcome and he’s done it,” Kemery said. “From a sophomore it was maturing and (developing) confidence. Last year it was patience. This year he’s overcoming some of his temper. He was a statesman on the court who takes care of everybody.”
On the court Sunday, he was dominating against Lupinetti, a sophomore playing in his first major singles tournament.
Ramesh ran off to a 5-0 lead in the first set, allowing Lupinetti only five points during that stretch. He wrapped up the first set with a win in deuce.
“He played great," Lupinetti said. “I think I had my shots, but his forehand was very good and his serve was tough in the wind. I can complain about my shots all day long, but he played great and I think he deserved it.”
Ramesh enjoyed similar success in the second set, even though Lupenetti managed to be a little more competitive in terms of points.
Lupenetti had his best chance to win a game when he took a 30-0 lead in the fourth game, but he ultimately lost in deuce.
Then Lupinetti managed to fight off one match point when the sixth game of the second set went to deuce, but Ramesh prevailed.
“I think I was just a lot more focused,” Ramesh said. “I wasn’t afraid to turn over the ball and go for my shots. I was feeling my shots a lot.”
In the doubles championship match the Cherry Hill East team of Jeffery Xi and Kevin Hu defeated Cougar teammates Max Subel and Arna Gupta 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-2.