CHATHAM, NJ - The season is still a month away, but the Chatham boys tennis team already has a few obstacles it must surmount.
The Cougars finished with a 10-9 record last season, but they'll be challenged to match that total because of injuries and a drop in depth.
“We will have approximately 10-12 players as opposed to 14-16 players from the past few years,” Chatham coach James Cai said.
The Cougars lost several key players from last year’s team due to graduation. Harrison Tognola, C.J. LaMantia and Will Nacht were all seniors in 2016, so Chatham must find a way to replace their production. LaMantia will be particularly difficult to replace, as he was named to the all-Group 3 third team in 2016.
Chatham must also surmount a few offseason injuries to varsity players. Ollie Monaghan tore his ACL playing soccer back in October, and Johnny Maurer injured his wrist during the basketball season. Coach Cai said that the two will miss the beginning of the season. He believes that Monaghan will be ready in May and Maurer in late April. With reinforcements on the way, Cai is confident that the team can succeed in 2017.
“Our greatest strength is that we have a young and talented team,” Cai said. “This team is passionate and eager to win, and the players have huge potential to get better through this season.”
Cai is particularly confident in three players going forward in 2017: juniors Tyler Lowe and Riley Feher, and freshman Aidan Sims. Lowe and Feher will likely be first and second singles for the Cougars, while Sims hopes to burst onto the scene at third singles.
Chatham also has senior Paul Ivans returning to the varsity squad. He was also named to the all-Group 3 third team last season.
“The team knows what everyone needs to do to get better, and they are so excited to play and compete on the courts,” Cai said. “They will be ready.”
Chatham opens up the varsity season when it plays host to Delbarton on Monday, April 3 at the Colony Tennis Courts.