Stafford Leader

Southern Regional Girls Tennis Faces Rebuilding Year

Sep 08, 2017

To say the Southern Regional High School girls tennis team is in a rebuilding year is sort of like saying Mount Everest is a rather steep hill – a decided understatement.

High school tennis teams have seven starters. Six of Southern’s 2016 starters, who led their team to a 15-8 record, graduated in June. Yeah, veteran coach Howie Madsen’s 2017 squad has a steep climb ahead of it.

Especially since Kristina Pineno, last year’s first singles starter, was one of the grads. Pineno was probably the top player in Ocean County last year, earning the top seed in the county tournament, thanks to a sparkling 19-0 dual match record and a 22-2 overall mark. Alas, she tore her ACL in the Ocean County finals and had to default. When you lose somebody like Pineno, who had set the Southern record with 59 career wins, well, she’ll be hard to replace.

Junior Christina D’Amodio will try, moving up from first doubles, where she and her partner went 19-7 in 2016. Every other potential starter this campaign played JV last year, so it isn’t surprising that Madsen is waiting until the very last minute to set his lineup.

He thinks senior Arielle Medenilla will be his second singles entry, while junior Nicole Conroy will fill the third singles slot. A pair of juniors, Cassidy Callan and Kelsey Bellack, had been penciled in at first doubles, while two of their classmates, Claire LaSala and Meghan Castro, figured to start the season at second doubles. But Madsen emphasized that his lineup was tentative, especially at doubles. Seniors Kristin Mauer, Laura Esposito, Annie McCallion and Jill Volponi were all still in the race as of Labor Day.

As this was being written, Madsen was about to run out of time to make his decisions. Southern’s season was set to start on Tuesday, Sept. 5, with the Rams hosting the Pinelands Regional Wildcats. Next come visits to Toms River East on Sept. 8 and Brick Memorial on Sept. 11.

The girls will return home on Sept. 12 to entertain Jackson Liberty.

—R.M.

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