Manasquan ousts Falcons from tennis states

By: Ken Weingartner
   Jim Kushner knows tournament seedings don’t mean much in sports.
   "The way it works out," he said, "is the strongest team is going to win anyway."
   That was the case last week as the Monroe High boys tennis team lost 5-0 to Manasquan in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II team tournament. The Falcons were seeded eighth in the tourney while Manasquan was ninth.
   "They were a strong team," Kushner said. "They have a couple of outstanding players."
   Manasquan plays in the same conference with Holmdel, the top-ranked team in the state. Manasquan improved to 8-4 with the victory over the Falcons, then dropped a 5-0 decision to Holmdel (21-1) in the tournament’s next round.
   Among Manasquan’s outstanding players was Matt Fawcett at first singles. Fawcett, who was 13-1 and the only player this year to beat Holmdel’s Gordie Milchutsky, defeated Ariel Stern in two sets. Stern dropped a two-set match to Milchutsky in the state singles tourney last season.
   "We’ve played some of the other Shore schools," Kushner said. "We know they’re all pretty strong. That’s pretty good competition there."
   Kushner said Stern, who again qualified for the state singles tourney, has continued to play well. Frank Senatore, at third singles, also has had a strong season. He is 9-7.
   "That’s pretty good for a sophomore," Kushner said. "He’s doing a good job. He’s an ex-doubles player, so the strength of his game is to take advantage of the short ball. He’s good around the net. He moves well. What he’s got to learn to do is drive the ball. He’s got to learn to attack on the short ball with his groundstrokes. Once he learns to do that, he’ll be a pretty good player."
   Tal Falk has played the majority of the season at second doubles, teaming with a variety of players. Most recently, Falk has been paired with John Ronan, a sophomore.
   "Falk has been the consistent one," Kushner said. "He’s generally been the leader on the second doubles."
   Kushner said the doubles teams have struggled at times this season, mainly because of the strength of the competition in the Greater Middlesex Conference’s White Division.
   "Doubles-wise, we’re competitive," he said. "But we’re seeing some good teams."