Boys’ Tennis looks to smash competition

By Daniel Kats
Published: April 2010

The Boys’ Tennis team is focusing on maintaining team chemistry and developing its talent after a first-round loss in the postseason last year. The Lions will rely on a younger crop of athletes in order to continue the Tennis program’s winning ways.

According to Head Coach Patrick McFarland, losing in the opening round of the tournament cannot be the only consideration when evaluating the success of a team with a 12-4 record a year ago.

“You gauge your success by comparing what you do and what you are capable of, McFarland said. “You can win and fail, and you can lose and be a success. South hopes the latter proves true for this year’s squad, after a bitter and abrupt ending to the 2009 campaign.

With a heartbreaking score of 3-2, St. John’s Preparatory School ended South’s season in the final set of the last match last May.

Losses by South’s top doubles team and second best singles player served as critical victories for the Eagles of St. John’s Prep.

During the final match of 2009, the Tennis team received major contributions from the doubles tandem of graduates Jon Ostrowsky and Nate Simon. The absence of the two players’ clutch performances and experience opens up new voids for the Tennis squad.

All three captains for the 2010 season possess playoff experience. In fact, senior Mark Garrity ousted St. John’s Prep’s third best singles player during the match. Junior Tyler Epstein was narrowly defeated by Prep’s top singles player, splitting the first two sets, and then losing the final by a score of 7-6.

Aside from the unfortunate exit from the tournament, the Tennis team can say that some of its players gained invaluable experience.
“[Tournament experience] can teach the other players how to better face [difficult] situations, and it has boosted our confidence for the future, senior Alan Shkolnikov said.

While the loss resonates within the minds of returning players, McFarland has wiped the slate clean in preparation for this year.
“We miss [last year's seniors], but we’re starting over; it’s a brand new season, McFarland said. “Every year is a new thing.

The Concord-Carlisle (C-C) Patriots, the most formidable opponent in on the Tennis team’s schedule, cannot say the same.

The Patriots are looking to for a third consecutive championship, having won back-to-back Division-I State titles in 2008 and 2009. During the run, C-C has a combined record of 36-0.

The Lions struggled against C-C last season, losing both times the schools met, with scores of 5-0 and 4-1.

According to McFarland, however, C-C will be more vulnerable this year than in recent seasons.

The South Tennis team’s dual-threat of both depth and talent lead Garrity to believe that the Lions are capable of snapping the Patriots’ undefeated streak.

“I think we can beat anyone in our league, he said.

“We have a very deep team with loads of ability and enthusiasm.

Atop the depth charts sit the team’s three captains, who hope to benefit from last season’s experiences.

Epstein now ranks among the top 15 players in the state, and with another year under his belt, Garrity looks to improve a 12-2 record last season.

Junior Aaron Belowich leads South’s top doubles tandem this year, and should be a threat to opponents throughout the season.

The younger, less experienced players will not only benefit from the tangible success of their captains, but will also profit from being subject to model, high-level tennis players.

“The captains are role models and leaders for the younger players, and they bring energy and commitment, both on and off the court, Shkolnikov said. “[Younger players] can learn a lot by watching the older guys in match play and in practices, and can take a lot out of this experience.

The captains are very much aware of their impact on their teammates, and aim to convey the reasons for their continuing success.
“[Garrity, Belowich, and I] are trying our best to be leaders on and off the court for the team this year, Epstein said.

To account for the departed players from last year’s Boys’ Tennis team, many players have been promoted from the Junior Varsity level, with sophomore Jonah Schwartz as the frontrunner of his class.

In addition to Schwartz, Shkolnikov, and junior Curtis Robbins will be relied upon to fill the voids of the graduates.

South will benefit greatly from the contributions of Adam Kalowski, who is returning from an injury that sidelined him after just a couple matches, but is expected to be a threat to opposing teams.

The Boys’ Tennis team has entered into the season expecting to serve up a good fight, and has worked throughout the offseason to improve.
“We feel that our hard work in the preseason is going to make a difference in the matches, Epstein said.

South swept a preseason match against Newton North, and hopes that the winning ways become a year-long trend.

The Boys’ Tennis team will face Wayland High School today in its first regular season match of the 2010 campaign.

Only time will reveal, however, whether this year’s Tennis squad has the talent and skill to beat the likes of C-C.

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