SD tennis teams adjusting to new format this season
(March 17, 2017) To cater to some of the smaller schools in the Bayside Conference that have fewer athletes, the format for high school tennis has changed this year.
Stephen Decatur is one of the larger schools with plenty of athletes to fill a lineup, so the coaches are not quite sure if the format will benefit or hamper them.
In past years, there were five singles matches and two doubles during a competition. Each player competed in their one match, so nine athletes took to the court for their team.
Now, there will be four singles and three doubles matches. Singles players will be allowed to compete in doubles matches as well. So instead of nine athletes playing, a team only needs six players.
One reason for the change, Decatur coaches Steve Berquist and Jamie Greenwood explained, was so that smaller schools would not have to forfeit matches. There have been a number of times over the years where Decatur faced a school that didn’t have enough players for five singles and two doubles matches. Those smaller school would typically forfeit one or both singles matches.
The new format allows singles players to compete in doubles matches, therefore, no forfeits. Matches will still be an eight-game pro set.
“I’m curious to see if the top four can play both singles and doubles,” Berquist said. “It kind of gyps some of the kids because if you want to win a [competition against another school as a team] you’re going to play your best players. So where nine kids were playing, now you only need six.”
“With the new format I had a different mentality when I was picking the team,” Greenwood said. “I think we’ll do OK. The new format could be a problem.”
The top concern is endurance, Greenwood said. If the singles players expend all their energy in their individual matches will they have enough for doubles competition, he wonders.
Greenwood, now in his ninth season as head coach, has 13 Lady Seahawks on his roster this year. Nine are returners from last season when the team went 6-6.
“We’ve got some experience and we’ve got some new talent. We definitely still have work to do, but we’re making progress,” he said. “We have some good individual talent that will benefit us in both singles and doubles matches.”
Leading the girls will be senior Katrina Harrell, a four-year member of the team, and junior Laila Mirza, a three-year player.
“Hopefully I can give some insight to my teammates and help them. I’m excited for the season. It’s going to be fun,” Harrell said. “Everyone pretty much knows what they’re doing, now we just have to sharpen our skills.”
“We want to be competitive,” Greenwood said. “I would like for the girls to work hard and continue to grow.”
Berquist, also in his ninth season coaching the boys, has 12 players on his roster, seven of whom are veterans. Last year the team finished with a 6-6 record.
“I’ve definitely seen improvement in a short amount of time, especially from the veterans,” Berquist said. “You can tell the kids who put in the time, which will be beneficial in close matches.”
This year, sporting new uniforms, the Seahawks hope to be better than .500.
“We have some kids with good experience. Three of our top four are seniors,” Berquist said. “The kids are ready to get going. Most of the new kids are younger so it’s good for the future.”
Leading the team at first singles will be senior Josh Domingo, a four-year player.
“I’ve been excited since last year. I’ve been practicing over the summer and hopefully that will benefit me in really tough matches,” Domingo said. “A lot of the guys on the team need help with technique and serving so I’ll help show them the ropes.”
Sophomore Jonathan Petito and seniors Brennan Holloway and Egor Reznikov are all varsity veterans that will round out the singles spots.
“They worked during the offseason and they’ve all really improved,” Berquist said.
Domingo and Holloway have been named team captains.
“They’ve done a good job leading the team,” Berquist said. “They’ve been here, they know what to expect, they know the drills.”
Returners, junior Frankie Nanna and senior Drayton Hoffman will play doubles. Newcomers, sophomore Trevor Hayes and freshman Nick Angelo may take the court at doubles.
Parkside, James M. Bennett and Worcester Prep are always tough opponents. Berquist said the goal for his team is to get a win against at least one of those squads.