By Warren Rappleyea
With an experienced lineup, the Sayreville War Memorial High School boys’ tennis team is looking to make its presence felt as the Bombers move into the Greater Middlesex Conference’s (GMC) White Division.
After posting 11 victories in the 2014 campaign, the Blue and Gray won five matches in 2015 and six last spring in the Red Division. Nevertheless, coach Mike Provenza believes his team is ready to move up in the win column.
“We have several of our top players back, and most of our guys saw some varsity time last year,” the coach said. “That and moving to the White Division should really help us. We have the talent to win, we just need to get a little confidence. Once that happens, wins are contagious.”
Taha Shaikh moves into the top singles spot for the Bombers after winning five times as a second singles player last season. Provenza likes the junior’s poise on the court and that combined with his consistent ground strokes should help win matches.
Co-captain Parth Patel takes over at second singles. The 6-foot-2 senior, who played third singles a year ago, owns a powerful and accurate forehand and is a force at the net. Much-improved Saif Sayed has won the third singles job. Sayed’s ground strokes and ability to get to the net quickly have impressed Provenza.
“Saif worked very hard on his game during the offseason, and it shows,” Provenza said. “He did well for us as a doubles player, but I really think he’ll be a force at singles. In fact, I expect all three of our singles guys will do well.”
The coach has broken up the doubles tandem of Faisal Ismail and Ankur Vijayvargiya, which produced 10 wins at first doubles to top the team. This spring, the dynamic Ismail, now a co-captain, will be paired with junior Muhammed Dutt, whose steady play will help provide more opportunities for Ismail at the net.
Vijayvargiya, a junior whose deft touch, accuracy and deceiving drop shot keep opponents off balance, is paired with senior Paul Myla. The senior saw some doubles action last season and will generally play at the net.
Other members of the squad include junior Haishil Trivedi, who is pushing for playing time, fellow junior John Gaugler and sophomore Desai Yash.
“We’re excited to get going, and we’re looking for a solid season,” said Provenza, who coached Sayreville’s girls’ tennis team to the White Division crown last fall. “We’re going to have some tough competition with teams like Highland Park and Wardlaw-Hartridge and some others. I think we’re going to do well.”
The Bombers are set to open the season at South Plainfield High School April 3 and will travel to Bayonne High School the following day for a non-conference match. Sayreville’s opens at home against Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen April 5, and Dunellen High School visits April 6.