Montclair High School girls tennis: ‘Working out the kinks’ to start the 2022 campaign
The Montclair High School girls tennis team takes on tough teams in pretty much every outing in the Super Essex Conference.
The Mounties are in the toughest division, the American.
"We hope to be able to compete against all teams, but particularly ones whose level is around our own, and go far as we can in states and counties," said Montclair head coach Guy Rabner, whose team was 8-8-1 in 2021.
And that has been the case to start the season, as the squad is 1-1, with a 3-2 win over Glen Ridge on Sept. 8 and a 4-1 loss to West Essex on Sept. 9.
For Rabner, it was a mixed bag to begin the season. "It was nice to get that first win against Glen Ridge," he said. "We're still working out the kinks. The West Essex team is almost all seniors. They are a good team."
The Mounties head into the Essex County Tournament on Sept. 20 at the Althea Gibson Tennis Courts in Newark.
Last season the Mounties had the unfortunate task of facing the eventual Essex County Tournament winner Montclair Kimberley in the quarterfinals. MKA again is the favorite to win the county tournament, as well as the SEC American Division.
Montclair might have an easier time in the North 1 Group 4 state sectional, where the Mounties lost to Ridgewood in the semifinals last year.
This season Rabner has a mix of experience and inexperience.
The first and second singles have returned, with senior Alana Flynn and junior Paloma Donado in those positions respectively.
Flynn takes on the top players in the county and has lost her first two matches of the season.
"She’s a senior captain, leader and fighter," Rabner said. "She’ll likely struggle against experienced tournament-level players but hopefully will compete against others."
Donado could be the best player on the squad.
"She’s got the most ability of anyone on the team," the coach said. "She has great strokes and lots of potential if she can clean up some holes in her game. We're hoping for great things from her."
One of the more inexperienced players is at third singles, sophomore Anna Becker. "She does not have a lot of experience but is a solid, consistent hitter with good potential," Rabner said.
A player who might see time as the season goes along is freshman Ayla Ozkuzey, who was beaten out by Becker for third singles. "Ayla has the biggest upside as a freshman and with good natural ability," the coach said.
There is experience also in doubles with junior Eliza Petricoff and senior Dylan Campanaro. Both ended last season at second doubles.
Campanaro moves up to first doubles with a newcomer, senior Kaira Kapila. Petricoff remains at second doubles with junior Malaya Cornejo. Both teams won their matches in the contest against Glen Ridge.
Montclair Girls Tennis Schedule
(Dates and times subject to change, matches at 4 p.m. unless noted)
Sept. 21 at Millburn
Sept. 24 Essex County Tournament, Newark, 9 a.m.
Sept. 28 at Livingston
Sept. 29 at Columbia
Oct. 1 Newark Academy, 10 a.m.
Oct. 4 at West Orange