After finishing with a 9-5 record last season, 2015 looks to be a season of transition for the Highland Park boys tennis team. The competition is a little stiffer for the Owls who move from the Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division to the White Division.
“Our team is very excited coming into the season,” said Tim Stark, in his fourth season. “We have a lot of returning players in both singles and doubles.”
It hasn’t been easy with the winter weather putting a damper on the practice schedule for Stark and his squad.
“It’s been a tough season out on the court. Because of the weather we haven’t been able to get in our challenge matches and work on our skills and strategies,” the coach said.
Their franchise player in first singles is the 2013 NJSIAA champion, senior Maverick Lin. “What impresses me most about Maverick is his focus and his experience that he brings,” said Coach Stark.
Juniors Leo Goldman and Will Chen will be competing for second and third singles. Goldman was an All-Blue Division selection last season. “Leo is very consistent who keeps the ball in play and controls the game….Will is extremely athletic and uses that to his advantage,” the coach said.
One senior, four juniors and one freshman will compete for first and second doubles for Highland Park. Leading the way is senior Amar Venugopal. “Amar has the best tennis mind on the team. He knows exactly where to go on the court and has tremendous match strategy,” Coach Stark said.
The junior players include Gisu Jeong, John Buzbee, Jesse McDermott-Hughes and Patrick Liu. The coach has high hopes for this “very talented quartet…..Gisu is very consistent and athletic, John is extremely athletic and competitive. Jesse had injuries part of the year but stepped in at the state tournament and gave us some good matches. Patrick Liu is a very long player who provides good play at the net and is vital to the doubles team.”
Freshman Josh Chen, the brother of Will Chen, is a newcomer to the team, but considered by Coach Stark to be “very good and consistent.”
Coach Stark did acknowledge that there are major challenges ahead for the Owls this season in the White Division. “Wardlaw has always been on top but we have other competition from St. Joseph’s, North Brunswick, JFK and Monroe.”