The H.S. girls tennis report: Seedings don’t reflect talent in North Jersey
By BOB SHWALB
Even though Cerdan is widely regarded as one of the state’s two best players — a point acknowledged by NJSIAA tournament director Bob Abbot after last year’s tournament — she was seeded third this year. On Monday, Cerdan beat defending champion Stephanie Schrage of Millburn to win the crown.
Hess, who lost to Schrage in last year’s semifinals, was seeded seventh this year, even though her only loss was to Cerdan in the Bergen County tournament large-school finals.
Last week, Hess showed her talent as she battled second-seeded Tess Fisher of Vineland in the state quarterfinals before losing on a super-tiebreaker, 6-3, 1-6 and 11-9.
KNIGHTS HOLD THE FORT: New Milford has held its own in the NJIC-Meadowlands, even after losing four starters from last year’s 10-7 team. The Knights are 8-8-1 but four of the losses were to quality teams from Dwight-Englewood, Leonia and Rutherford.
“The girls have really surprised me,” coach Dora Oliviero said.
Two of the biggest surprises are senior Ediza Koch, a first-year player who moved up to second singles, and freshman Kaitlyn Rostkowski, who plays first doubles with senior Yoshika Takezawa. New Milford’s lineup also includes Michelle Sydoruk and Nicole Te at singles and Karen Kim and Emily Castano at second doubles.
PARTY TIME: Midland Park has shown that success is not always measured in wins and losses. The Panthers are 4-11-1 but coach Jeff Hackett called the season an “awesome experience.”
“This team has really bonded,” Hackett said. “They’ve all turned into varsity athletes. They’ve got a great work ethic and everyone has bought into the idea of trying to get better every day.”
Hackett said his team “set a school record for the most pasta parties before matches … I think eight.” On the court, the girls developed a desire to win.
This year’s lineup includes singles players Natalie Borzone, Maggie Hagerty and Kate Leonard and doubles pairs of Georgia Catanese/Jackie Lelinho and Jessica Gryczko/Shannon Burger.
HORNET COMMANDER: One week after summer practice was scheduled to start, Passaic Valley still didn’t have a coach.
Despite having no coaching background in the sport, Jim Holsworth stepped in to fill the void. He started from scratch with a young and inexperienced squad, teaching his girls the basics and rules and then moving on from there.
“At the start, it was mostly about teaching them how to be part of a team, how to commit to a sport and how to compete at the varsity level,” Holsworth said. “That was the biggest thing. Once they got that down, we could move on to the game of tennis.”
Three of Holsworth’s starters never played before this season and his top eight girls include two juniors and six sophomores.
The Hornets’ lineup is made up of singles players Ekaterina Lavrenov, Anna Hosri and Grace Rose and doubles players Cat Ferguson, Angie Dulak, JoAnn Roncone, Nanci Mercuri and Christina Folan.
“The girls are learning and hopefully they’ll keep getting better as we move forward,” Holsworth said.