Hornets in the driver’s seat in A Central race

first_imgHolmdel team has high aspirations for postseason BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer Plenty of depth and a solid contingent of returnees have propelled the Holmdel High School boys tennis team to a 11-1 record and the top spot in the Shore Conference’s Class A Central Division. Coach Chuck Chelednick’s team has downed all five divisional foes it has faced: Rumson-Fair Haven (3-2), Manasquan (3-2), St. John Vianney (5-0), Raritan (5-0) and Matawan (4-1). Among the Hornets’ other triumphs are wins over against Ranney Prep (5-0) and Livingston (4-1) in the opening round of the Delbarton Tournament on April 22. The lone defeat came at the hands of Westfield (4-1) in the second round of the Delbarton tourney. “We’ve certainly been playing well and we’re pleased at the good start,” said Chelednick, whose team went 18-7 a year ago. “We’re strong throughout the lineup, and our depth, I would say, might be the best in the state.” Holmdel received a nice boost with the return of Lawrence Zakrevsky, one of five left-handers on the squad. Zakrevsky, who played with the Hornets as a freshman, has been concentrating on tournaments in recent years. The senior has used a power game, combining quickness, excellent ground strokes and a fine two-handed backhand to post a 7-1 ledger at first singles. Junior Jon Tai, another lefty, has been solid at second singles where he is 6-2 after winning 17 matches as a sophomore. Crafty and smart, Tai owns a fine serve and is strong at the net. Fellow junior Jeff Yang holds down the third slot. After winning 15 times last spring, Yang is 8-1 thanks to his ability to dictate the pace of matches, as well as an at-times-overpowering forehand shot. Chelednick is loaded with doubles players and there is plenty of competition for playing time. Currently two juniors, Alex Wu and Jon D’Agostino hold the first spot, where they are even better than last year, when they went 17-2 as the second-doubles tandem. Wu, who owns a devastating backhand and an accurate serve, plays well with the speedy D’Agostino, who relies on quickness and a reliable serve. Senior Ken Hettler and 6-1 junior Donald Encinas are in the second spot where they are 10-0. Nicknamed “The Wall” for his strong net play, Hettler is a good compliment for the left-handed Encinas, who plays the backhand side. “We’re counting on our third singles and the doubles teams to win,” Chelednick said. “We’re very talented up top, but many times matches are decided in doubles, and I think we have an edge there.” Not to mention a third doubles team to push the first two. Sophomore Eric Chung and freshman Sean Lu, a pair of lefties, have shown promise in limited action. In addition, junior Jeff Yen, who won 15 times at third singles last season, is available to play singles or doubles as needed. “Most coaches would like to have one lefty, and we have five,” Chelednick said. “It’s always tough to play lefties, and we have more depth than any team I can think of. That should be a big help during the tournaments.” A year ago, the Hornets reached the semifinals of the Shore Conference and Monmouth County tourneys, as well as the semifinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey Group III playoffs. “We’d certainly want to do even better this season, but we don’t want to start thinking too far ahead, even though the Monmouth County Tournament started this weekend,” the coach said. With a win over Rumson-Fair Haven last week, the Hornets built a two-game lead over the Bulldogs in the division race with just a handful of matches remaining. This week, Holmdel will be busy once again, with a Shore Conference Tournament opener scheduled for yesterday, and matches with Manasquan (5-3) and St. John Vianney on the slate for tomorrow and Friday, respectively.last_img

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