By Wayne Witkowski
Jackson Memorial High School sports fans are stumped to remember the last time the boys tennis team had a county champion, let alone at two positions as it did this year.
Two of the three players involved in the county titles are sophomore twin brothers Chris and Zach DeMetro at third singles and first doubles, respectively.
Chris DeMetro was extended only three times to three sets during the season, avenging his only loss in the Ocean County Tournament championship at Bay Lea Park in Toms River May 25 to Toms River High School North’s Rob Mullin in straight sets after dropping a three-set match to Mullin early in the season. It was the only loss he had in Shore Conference A South Division matches and the only time the Jaguars got shutout in all five positions in an otherwise sharp 11-7 season that concluded last week.
The Jaguars had only three conference losses, including a 3-2 loss to Toms River North the second time around on the schedule and a split of 3-2 outcomes with Lacey Township High School to finish in second place in A South. Jackson Memorial had a 4-2 record in matches that ended 3-2.
Zach DeMetro teamed with veteran starter Federico Coria, a junior, to win the Ocean County Tournament first doubles title, and they also had only one loss during the conference season.
“We talk strategy and give advice [to each other],” Zach DeMetro said of his relationship with his brother. “We give different advice. I tell him to control the net better. We hit against each other at times and are very competitive.”
They also root for each other when either gets off the court before the other in matches.
“I tell [Zach], ‘I like your athleticism. Always give your all.’ I do. I never give up a point easily,” Chris DeMetro said. “I’ve been playing more on the offensive lately because I’m a very defensive player who likes to control the match by keeping the ball in play and forcing my opponent into making errors.”
“He’s like a wall back there,” Jackson Memorial coach Chris Opdyke said of Chris DeMetro.
The coach also said Zach DeMetro and Coria work very well together in doubles.
“A lot of time, I set [Coria] up for good overheads by controlling the net,” Zach DeMetro said, as all of their wins came in straight sets and only one set went to a tiebreaker.
Zach DeMetro said his slow spin serve and Coria’s very hard serve make it difficult for opposing doubles teams.
Their efforts, along with returning starter Sam Panich (junior) at second singles, won a lot of matches in a very competitive division. Senior Matt Keville also returned to the starting lineup at first singles, as did senior Sagar Summers at second doubles, teaming with sophomore Mike Danski in the ironman lineup that hardly missed any matches.
“We had some new kids (three) in the lineup, but they were athletic and I figured we’d be at least .500, so this was good,” Opdyke said.
“It feels good. We’re having a rebirth of tennis,” Chris DeMetro said. “I think with the lineup we have back next year, we’ll do the same or better than this year.”