Ocean City —
“We’re struggling a little bit,” Raider tennis coach George McNally said last Wednesday as his team faced Mainland.
“We started off 2-0 and then broke a four-game losing streak yesterday against Absegami and we had to sweat a little bit to get that one,” he said.
The Raiders (3-4) were coming up against 3-1 Mainland, a team that included the new CAL doubles champs Doug Moglia and Ryan Pangilinan, but Ocean City didn’t lay down.
The Mustangs narrowly defeated Ocean City, 3-2, and the pivotal match at second singles went three sets.
Raider first singles Zack Shutz topped Mainland’s Ehan Fischer, 6-4, 7-5. Mainland’s Chris Nazha came back to beat Nathan Roberts after losing the first set 7-5. He topped Roberts in a close tiebreaker 7-6 (11-9), then closed out the third set 6-2.
Raider Lucas Baker beat Mustang Alex Nhan 6-3, 6-1 to give Ocean City its second point, but it wasn’t enough as the Mainland doubles teams dominated.
At first doubles, Mainland’s Moglia and Pangilinan beat Ocean City seniors Ben Weisberg and Tim DeRosa, 6-2, 6-1. At second doubles, Mustangs Josh Margolis and Chris Sartain won 6-2, 6-0 over Ocean City’s Dan Loggi and Chris Gorski.
McNally says part of the problem his team is having is that the schedule is loaded with matches and there is little time for practice, which his doubles teams need.
“For the young kids, the grind is wearing on them a little bit,” McNally said. “Our doubles teams need to be better. We need to do everything better at doubles – service return, net play, everything, but they’re great kids and they’re working.
“This is our fourth match this week. It would be nice to get a couple of practices in. We need to get a win here – one of these next three matches. We should get into the playoffs even though we’d have a losing record ... and (we hope to) stay away from Moorestown.
McNally said the focus is on doubles because he believes the coaches can do more to improve those teams quickly than the singles players.
“(With) our singles kids, it’s a little bit of a different animal, but doubles you can actually improve on and work on some things. Not that you can’t with singles, but we need time.
We do have the two seniors playing together (at first singles) and we hoped they wouldn’t have to work as much, but right now we do.”
Part of the reason for the condensed season is that it loads the matches early in the spring and then finishes.
“I’d love to say it’s a long season, but this is the halfway mark for us. We have two and a half weeks left and then our season’s over,” McNally said.
The coach said Shutz “has been great. Zack is 5-2 (6-2 after beating Mainland) and our other two singles players have been battling. Zack needs one win in his next three matches and he qualifies for the state singles tournament. It’s been a while since we’ve had anyone without the name of Barrus qualify for state singles. That would be real nice for Zack to get into the state singles tournament.”
The Raiders were to host Vineland Tuesday. They travel to Oakcrest for a 4 p.m. start Friday.