Boys’ tennis starts season out strong

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by Colin Morrow

After reaching the State Sectional Finals last year and winning the league, the boys’ tennis team realized that they had a lot to live up to in their 2016 season. However, with several returning members, the Panthers have the potential to succeed once again. Despite the high expectations, the team has proved to be a dominant threat once again, going undefeated in their first nine matches, and including five shutouts.

Possibly the biggest advantage that Glen Rock shows is their experience. The Panthers are returning five of their seven starters, including Marino Aldaz (‘16), First Singles and Jesse Weiss (’16), Second Doubles.

“Everyone has been playing varsity for a while,” Weiss said. “And we played a lot of good teams last year, which helped us prepare for this year.”

Aldaz, who was named First Team All-League by NJIC, and reached the County quarterfinals, thinks that the skill of the players, along with the leadership of some of the players, allows the team to look past the high expectations.

“We know that we have what it takes to have a great season,” Aldaz said. “We have a great group of players with a lot of depth and we don’t really feel the pressure of living up to last year.”

Perhaps the most important returning member of the boys’ tennis team is not any of the players. Coach Bonnie Zimmerman will be returning to coach the boy’s team, following a successful season in the Fall with the girls. Zimmerman has had a very successful career, and hopes that this season will be another one worth remembering. Her efforts have been shown through her records, but through the appreciation that her players show towards her.

“She is a great coach and really knows how to get the most out of us,” Aldaz said.

Some of Zimmerman’s best qualities, according to Aldaz, is the combination between her knowledge of tennis and her great personality.

“Her enthusiasm and great advice is often enough to get us through tough matches,” Aldaz said. “She has a lot of experience, too, and knows how to approach different matches well.”

Despite Glen Rock’s early season success, it was not given to them without hard work. Due to the success of last year’s season, Glen Rock’s schedule increased in difficulty, including tough games against Fair Lawn and Demarest, and a game against one of the best teams in the state, Dwight Englewood.

“We have had a much tougher schedule [this year],” Weiss said. “We have already played four teams that were ranked in the preseason.”

Another big advantage that Glen Rock has used to their advantage in recent years is the legacy behind Glen Rock tennis. Weiss feels that the popularity of the sport in Glen Rock has brought interest to several students.

“In a lot of schools, tennis is not a powerhouse sport that gets a lot of interest,” Weiss said. “But at GRHS our team has a legacy of winning and people are drawn to that so we get a big turnout when tryouts come around.”

Despite the early season success, along with many of the toughest games having already been played, Glen Rock knows that their journey is far from over, as they prepare for counties, states, and any of the challenges that are yet to come.

“Our toughest part has passed, but our best opponent, Dwight Englewood, has yet to come,” Weiss said.