Pineno, Mastandrea Back to Lead Southern Girls Tennis Squad
Having two of the three singles players from last season returning provides some level of comfort for Southern Regional girls tennis coach Howard Madsen. Especially so because one of them holds the second-best, single-season record in program history.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what she’s going to do this season,” Madsen said of first singles player Kristina Pineno, who was 21-6 and placed third in the Ocean County Tournament last fall. Her record is second only to MaryKate Kelly’s 22-3 record from 2004.
“Kristina’s consistent on the baseline and is a decent net player. She mixes her shots really well, and she’s very good at analyzing her opponents and making adjustments. She’s got more confidence going into this season. And that’s good for us as a team.”
With Pineno leading the charge last season as a junior, the Rams went 15-9 overall and 7-7 in the Shore Conference Class A South division, finishing tied for third, and placed sixth as a team in the Ocean County Tournament. The last time Southern won the division occurred in 2004.
“We have a well-balanced team,” Madsen said. “We have Kristina in our top spot and a lot of capable players behind her. On paper, we have a shot at winning A South this season.”
Behind Pineno, the likely candidate to play in the second singles position will be last year’s third singles player, senior Sophia Mastandrea, who was 13-8. However, it’s possible senior Olivia Fulton may get some chances at second singles as well. Fulton was 12-10 as a first doubles player last year.
“Both Sophia and Olivia should do well,” Madsen said. “Sophia places the ball well and has great stroke mechanics. She’s an all-court player who runs down everything. And Olivia is going to be a pretty good singles player. She has a good serve when it’s on and she has a nice forehand and backhand. She’s more of a baseline player but she’s consistent back there.”
The other first doubles player from a year ago, senior Erica Cordero, who was 12-13, most likely will lead this year’s first doubles squad and have sophomore Christina D’Amodio as her partner. As a junior varsity player last fall, D’Amodio was 17-1.
“Erica is great in the backcourt and has really good ground strokes,” Madsen said. “Christina is excellent at the net, has great volleys and uses angles really well. The chemistry is very good with them, so they should be a good team.”
With the season scheduled to start Tuesday, Sept. 6 against neighboring Pinelands Regional, Madsen still had to figure out the Rams’ second doubles tandem, but three players, all of whom are seniors, were vying for the two spots: Jamie Tapia, Julia Drazin and Rose Morizzo.
Last season, Tapia was 14-6 as a junior varsity player, while Drazin went 12-6 and Morizzo was 11-7.
“I’m looking forward to this season,” Madsen said. “I’m happy with what we have right now, and I believe our girls can do very well this fall.”
— David Biggy