By Warren Rappleyea
North Brunswick Township High School’s boys’ tennis team is off to a 5-0 start and is sitting atop the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) White Division.
The Raiders, who were 12-6 a year ago, have relied heavily on a senior-laden lineup, and many of coach Cindi Totten’s players are in their fourth year with the program. North Brunswick has won four times by the score of 5-0. The other success was a 4-1 decision over Sayreville War Memorial High School.
“This is great for our seniors,” Totten said. “They’ve grown with the program, and they’ve just gotten better and better as players. I’m going to miss them.”
The experience, combined with the presence of Abhie Maharama at first singles, has paid off handsomely. Like his team, the sophomore is undefeated. He had a close call against the Wardlaw-Hartridge School’s Dev Dasondi but prevailed in a tiebreaker.
An even-tempered player who is able to keep his poise no matter the situation, Maharama worked during the offseason to improve his play at the net. He has also become more adept at planning his game and using one shot to set up another shot.
“Abhie is a very talented player,” the coach said. “As a freshman, he would just go out and play. Now, he is so much better at the strategic part of the game. He goes into matches with a plan now.”
Wenceslao Lara, one of the six seniors on the team, is 5-0 at second singles. The owner of a strong, accurate serve, Lara has become adept at making adjustments during matches to answer an opponent’s strategy or strength.
Holding down the third spot is another senior, hard-hitting Neil Jain, who moved to singles after three successful campaigns as a doubles player. Although he has had to adjust to the more patient style of play at third singles, Jain has tempered is usual willingness to go for the quick point, and the result is a 5-0 mark.
Seniors Akhil Yetukuri and Suraj Sanyal are Totten’s first doubles duo. Yetukuri’s hard serve and deep groundstrokes mesh well with Sanyal’s patient style, calm demeanor and solid all-around game. They have won four of five matches with the lone loss coming on a 10-point tiebreaker against Sayreville.
Totten rotates players at second doubles, including senior Sahil Shah and junior Arjun Varadham. They have been battling through some minor injuries but have yet to lose a match. Keeping the ball in play and coming to the net at the right time have helped them to be successful.
North Brunswick still has matches with Colonia High School, Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen and Highland Park High School to finish its first go-round in the White Division. Totten said all three teams are talented and noted that St. Joe’s Jack Kosiorowski is undefeated and Highland Park’s top singles player, Patrick Lin, has been on a roll of late.
“Our lineup is pretty strong throughout, but everyone needs to step up a bit as the season moves along,” Totten said. “There are some important matches coming up, and we want to stay on top of the division. We’ll also need to be at our best for the state tournament.”