No. 1 singles player Luke Smith graduated, 1 of 7 seniors from last year’s team.
No. 2 singles player Nikolay Sahakyan had back surgery and is currently on light duty until May 1.
No. 3 singles player Krish Vennam made the team and then opted to focus on USTA play instead.
Scarsdale boys tennis coach Jennifer Roane went from one major singles loss to being without her entire 2018 lineup after she put together the team’s typical challenging schedule.
“We got off to a few bumps in the beginning of the season, but to true Scarsdale form we’ve really managed to be very flexible and still keep the program moving forward,” Roane said.
The Raiders are 2-1 through three matches, having lost 5-2 to Horace Greeley and defeated Bronxville 4-3 and Edgemont 5-2. Scarsdale will have very few — if any — gimmes this season.
“I’m used to walking in with a little bit more confidence at least to have a dynamite doubles team or singles player,” Roane said. “Walking in always nail-biting, I’m not used to that.”
The replacement singles players are freshman Jason Shuler at first, senior Jose Maronilla at second, freshman Adin Lamport third.
“The freshmen were good enough to make the team and this is a very tough team to make in my eyes, but on the other hand they might have been No. whatever in USTA in their age group, but now they’re playing kids who are 17 or 18 years old that are 6 feet, that have a hundred pounds on you,” Roane said. “It’s a different type of game. With the singles players I’m trying to get in their mind it’s not just hitting back and forth. You have to bring that competition you do in USTA and do that here.”
Shuler is 1-2 and in his lone loss he competed well against Bronxville’s Liam Krall, taking five games over two sets.
“I’ve played a lot of older kids and you have to get used to their power,” Shuler said. “I’m pretty tall, so they don’t overpower me that much, but they still have more muscle. It’s harder to adjust from playing younger kids to older kids.”
Making the team with three other freshmen, Lamport, Ryan Gerson and Jason Gans, helped Shuler in the transition to varsity. “It makes it easier not being the only freshman,” Shuler said.
It took Maronilla two years on junior varsity and until his second year of varsity to break into singles.
“I was able to up my game and make varsity as a junior and not many kids did that,” Maronilla said. “The transition from doubles to singles is pretty different, but I play my clinic and we practice both.”
Last year, Maronilla played third doubles with then-senior Hernan Marambaio. “I think it’s a big win for him,” Roane said. “He really wanted it bad.”
Roane likes the “passion” Maronilla brings to the court. “He goes on the court to win,” she said. “Emotionally you can see him when he makes a mistake or he does something well, whereas the freshmen are very quiet on the court. Sometimes they play they other person’s game, whereas Jose goes out and tries to play his game.”
Though Maronilla is excited about his role, he understands that no matter where you play, you have to produce.
“It’s all about representing your team,” he said. “I hope to help instill confidence in other players, especially since we have the four freshmen who have been pretty nervous. We have a lot of first-timers on the team, so I hope to give them some confidence.”
Maronilla has improved his net game, but still needs to get up to net more often. “Off the serve I have to serve and volley sometimes instead of staying back on the baseline too long,” he said.
If Sahakyan comes back as expected on May 1, Roane intends to have him fight for his singles spot like any other player. “He’ll probably start at third singles because he hasn’t really played in months,” she said.
Doubles is also a strong part of the team. Against Bronxville, Scarsdale swept the doubles matches for the win as all the singles players were defeated.
Gus Thompson and Jordan Ziffer won 6-1, 6-1; Dylan Cohn and Jake Singer 6-2, 6-1; Ben Rossano and Andrew Broom 6-1, 7-5; Gerson and Gans 6-2, 6-1.
“I think we needed that after Horace Greeley,” Roane said of the win. “We have not beaten Horace Greeley in many years. They’re just such a powerhouse. We’re in the only team in all of Section 1 that has two varsity teams, so I feel like we’re a powerhouse as well and I’ve got the best of the best.”
Thompson and Ziffer are veterans who teamed up this year, Cohen and Singer have played together for three years, Rossano and Broom are a new pairing and Gerson and Gans are often being challenged for the fourth spot by Narain Chepuru and George Brady.
Roane is enjoying working with the team of 13 and has been talking about goals this season.
“Everyone was talking about it being an individual sport and really trying to play the best tennis you can when you get out on the court — no regrets — but we definitely want the wins,” she said.
Still, Roane sticks by her annual policy of finding the best competition for her team.
“I still like to play up and I still like to play tough competition, so I don’t think I would have changed it at all,” she said. “The outcome might not be what I want, but the experience for the kids is important. It means more when you’re playing a school when they are at your level or above your level.”