By Jeff Appelblatt
The boys’ tennis players at Marlboro High School are still in the midst of showing coach Dave Kretzmer what they’re capable of. The 19-year coach isn’t too sure yet who will be his top players on the court this year.
Kretzmer knows his club is quite young, but also full of potential.
“We have four freshmen that are really nice players,” the coach said, pointing out two that were competing for first singles March 24.
Players are still competing for spots in the lineup.
“Right now, we’re still challenging,” Kretzmer said. “We have to have challenge matches in order to prove our lineup is a certain way. We haven’t really started a practice yet.
“Practice is when you get your lineup set and then work on what you need to work on.”
Kretzmer is fortunate with the team he’s putting together. Some schools get students who aim to play tennis for the first time, but even the freshmen who are trying to play at Marlboro are seasoned.
“These kids that are coming in and playing for the top positions — they’ve been playing for years,” the coach said. “Tennis is one of those sports where if you haven’t played, you’re going to struggle. Coming in to the varsity level, hopefully you have a background of a couple of years, especially here in Marlboro, where we usually have a decent amount of talent.”
Things are just a bit behind where Kretzmer wishes they were with March winding down, but he knows it wasn’t only snowing in Marlboro.
“With the snow, we haven’t really figured everything out yet. We had about 5 inches of snow on our court last week,” he said.
When the regular season begins in April, Marlboro’s coach is confident he’ll have his players ready to compete.
“We’ve got some new players playing for singles positions. We’ve got a bunch of people playing for doubles,” Kretzmer said. “We kept 14 kids this year [from last]. We have a nice influx of talent mixed with the old talent.
“We should be pretty good. We’re looking [for it] to probably be between us and [Christian Brothers Academy (CBA)] for the [Shore Conference] A North [Division title].”
Marlboro’s coach remembers CBA taking the chance to win the division away from the Mustangs last year.
“We’d like to take it back from them,” Kretzmer said, noting that Marlboro won the A North two years ago. “We go back and forth with them. We’re usually pretty tight with CBA.
“We’ve been fortunate enough where we’ve had our times we’ve dominated them, and they’ve had their times where they dominated us.”
Kretzmer has more goals than a run for the division.
“Hopefully we could challenge Holmdel [High School] this year for the Shore Conference,” he said. “We want to go undefeated in the conference. We want to see if we could knock off Holmdel, the Shore Conference champions for like six years in a row.”
The aspirations go even further.
“We want to see if we can compete against [teams like] Montgomery [High School] and West Windsor-Plainsboro [High School South] in states — the teams we’ve gotten knocked out [by] year after year,” Marlboro’s coach said. “That’s where we want to be. We want to set lofty goals and see if we could achieve them.”
First, though, Marlboro’s tennis team needs to get its lineup setup. The Mustangs’ coach is especially focused on having some strong doubles teams.
“Two people on the court [trying] to work as a team — for us, that’s where the payoff is,” Kretzmer said. “It’s nice to have top-ranked players, but I’ve always won from doubles on up.
“You’ve got to count on your doubles and how they work together.”
Local rival Freehold Township High School will be the first to see how the Marlboro boys look when April rolls around. The teams meet April 3 at 4 p.m. in Marlboro.