SARATOGA SPRINGS – The air was seasonably mild and the afternoon sun was strong when the Saratoga Boys Tennis team’s spring season kicked off.
Facing off against the visiting Shaker High School team on April 3, the air of confidence and friendship amongst the Saratoga Springs High School athletes was as relaxed as the weather. As each matchup was announced, the other members cheered and hollered as their teammate made his way to shake hands with his opponent for the day. Coming off last season, this team may have every reason to feel confident and at ease.
“We ended up winning the section for the first time in the school’s history [last season],” head coach Tim O’Brien said. “It was a great year last year. We lost some important players from last year’s team, but we also have a lot of seniors this year that are gonna be very experienced.”
Amongst these seniors, O’Brien singled out a few that seemed particularly promising going forward into the season. David Romano, who has been playing on Saratoga tennis teams since 8th grade and will be attending Brown University next fall, was one of them, defeating Shaker’s Ashatash Valigar in two games, 6-1 and 6-3. Seungmin Kim was another of those seniors, a transfer from Texas a few seasons back, who defeated Niraj Shah in two games, 6-1 on both counts.
This first match went decisively in the Blue Streak’s favor, with the Saratoga athletes winning in each of the nine match-ups, six singles and three doubles. In all, things look to be going well for another dominant season.
Practice began indoors on March 13, and have continued indoors for the past few weeks on account of weather. March 30 marked their first outdoor practice.
“It’s exciting to actually be out and enjoying the weather,” O’Brien said.
-David Romano (Saratoga, Senior) vs. Ashatash Valigar (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-3
-Seungmin Kim (Saratoga, Senior) vs. Niraj Shah (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-1
-Nick Grosso (Saratoga, Grade 8) vs. Ryan Parks (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-0, Set 2: 6-0
-Max Lee (Saratoga, Senior) vs. Cameron Germaine (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-0, Set 2: 4-6, Set 3: 6-4
-Eddie Towers (Saratoga, Junior) vs. Kevin Luu (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-3, Set 2: 6-0
-Luke DeRizzo (Saratoga, Junior) vs. Noah Massry (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-1
-Matt Chmiel & David Ackerman (Saratoga, Seniors) vs. Nasiru Kotey & Rahul Akkeem (Shaker) Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-3, Set 2: 6-1
-Ben Crandall & Max Jackson (Saratoga, Sophomore and Junior respectively) vs. P.K. Kura & Sonny Gajjala Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-2, Set 3: 6-0
-Pratik Gurung & Matt Hogan (Saratoga, Junior and Freshman respectively) vs. George Tidd & Zavi Uppal Winner: Saratoga, Set 1: 6-1, Set 2: 6-1
Final: Saratoga, 9-0
[UPDATE: When originally published, this article incorrectly referred to sets as "games." This has been corrected for the online version.]
All photos by Photoandgraphic.com.