Cranbury tennis team should survive personnel losses

By: Rich Fisher
   After losing 16 players to graduation, the Cranbury School tennis program is in a rebuilding mode this year.
   Or, at least a re-tooling mode.
   "Of my 25 players, only nine are returning, but we have some new seventh and eighth graders who have been taking tennis lessons on their own," Totten said. "We have a group where most of them have been working on tennis year round and they are individually motivated. This will be a really enjoyable group."
   Totten and assistant coach Sue Paterson are still working on dividing the group into varsity and JV, and the positions in the line-ups have not yet been figured out for Monday’s opener against Hun at Mercer County Park.
   But the rosters are set, and feature 8th-graders Charlie Leson, Ross Zebuhr, Michael Tessler, Keith Vincellette, Jill Westerberg, Youvarj Singh, Anthony Borek, Blaze Mazur, Dan Stewart, Emery Long and Justin Hughes; 7th-graders Miheer Mhatre, Rohit Gawande, Ram Yamarthy, Rahool Padhye, Greg Bredariole, Lauren Passannante, Arjun Vikuntam, Sandeep Tummula, Cristobelle Chen, Mike Mansfield and Drew Mazur; and 6th-graders Andrew Paterson, Desiree Young and Shabeg Singh.
   "Even though I have a lot of seventh-graders, this group has a lot of experience, a lot of lessons and drills behind them," said Totten. "A lot of them continued to play during winter months and they are particularly serious about improving their tennis as well as winning. They play other sports also, but they have been working on their tennis.
   "It used to be that we would have some good athletes who came out able to play tennis but they hadn’t really put much time into practicing and working on their strokes. Now, the players are coming in who are already at a good skill level, so we have more of a chance to work on strategy and working together in doubles."
   Totten feels two players with vast potential are Mhatre and Gawande.
   "Miheer was on the JV last year but has worked very hard and looks like he’ll win one of the singles positions," the coach said. "Rohit played baseball last year and I’m really glad to have him. He’s got very strong tennis skills, he’ll be one of my top players."
   Leson, Zebuhr and Tessler should also be in contention for varsity singles spots.
   "We’ll just have to see what the season brings," Totten said. "Our first match is with Hun, which is usually good, so we’ll learn a lot about ourselves then."