Experience May Go Long Way for Pinelands Regional Boys Tennis Team
There probably aren’t too many high school boys tennis coaches in New Jersey who wouldn’t want to be in Brian Jones’ shoes. Coach Jones’ Pinelands Regional team went 21-3 in 2016. It finished third in the tough Ocean County Tournament and reached the finals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association South Jersey Group II Tournament. The squad captured a Shore Conference B South title with 13-1 divisional record.
Here’s the kicker – much of the 2016 team is back in 2017.
Tim Kelleher, a senior and Pinelands’ first singles player, is back. His classmate, Shane Nourie, is back at second singles. Yet another soon-to-be-an-alumnus, Adam Raynor, is back, although he has moved up from second doubles to third singles.
Two more seniors, Carl Olsen and Anthony Staton, opened the 2017 season on April 3 as Pinelands’ first doubles duo. You have to go all the way down to second doubles to find youngsters on the Pinelands roster in the form of sophomores Samuel Cardillo and Arpit Gainder.
So Pinelands has an experienced squad in 2017. That experience showed in its first match of the year, against B South rival Lacey.
Kelleher struggled against Lacey senior Justin Frazee, falling in two sets, 3-6, 1-6. But Nourie dominated in his second singles match, beating Conner Crisafulli 6-2, 6-2. Meanwhile, Raynor totally shut down Lacey’s Jarod Bowen, 6-0, 6-0.
Olsen and Staton dismissed visiting Lions Kevin O’Rourke and Kip Byrne, 6-3, 6-4, at first doubles. Cardillo and Gainder perhaps showed newcomers’ nerves in their first set against Lacey’s Dominic Palino and Ryan Thompson, losing 1-6. But they seemed to be growing into their new roles in the second set, still losing but closing the gap to a 6-7 count.
Experience, of course, doesn’t mean everything in high school tennis. A young hotshot who grew up playing club tennis can stir the pot, but experience is generally an advantage. Pinelands’ match against Lacey is a good example.
Lacey’s Frazee, who beat Kelleher, is a senior. But Crisafulli, who fell to Nourie, is a junior. Bowen, who lost to Pinelands senior Raynor, is a sophomore. The first singles duo for Pinelands, both seniors, beat a pair of sophomores. It was only at the second doubles level where the grade level was even, two sophs versus two sophs.
— Rick Mellerup