CLARK, NJ - The Arthur L. Johnson High School boys’ varsity tennis team wrapped up a successful 2015 season, winning their third straight conference championship and reaching the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 state tournament quarterfinals. On the season, the team posted a 13-4 record.
A victory over Plainfield High School on May 20, 2015, secured the team’s third straight Union County Conference Mountain Division Championship. They also ranked sixth in the counties in the 2015 season.
Seniors Lucas Gallo and Anthony Filiciello served as team captains
“I feel like I had a lot of responsibility, not only as a player out there on the court, but more as a person overall,” Filiciello said. “Whenever Coach Raguseo needed something, he came to me. I always felt like I had a big role in whatever went on. I felt like a leader out there.”
Filling out the team’s roster were:
- Seniors - Albert Martin, Conard Ozarek, Mark Spence, Kevin Twardowski
- Juniors - Luis Bergin, Mike DeMarc, Josh Ferriera
- Sophomores - Matt Gallo
- Freshmen- Logan Guarino, Christian Eriksson, Matthew Vigliotti
Head coach Chris Raguseo said that it felt great to see his athletes succeed in games during big-situation matches.
“It’s always good to see them do well, especially against the upper-tier schools,” Raguseo said. “We don’t get much respect being in the lower division. But being competitive and winning some of those matches is big, not only for the program, but for the kids individually. It’s good for the upper-tier teams to see we can compete at that level.”
A highlight of the season was DeMarco’s fourth rank finish in the county tournament, the highest by any Johnson tennis player since 2003.
“It was nice to get on the court, play my game, and get the W,” DeMarco said. As an underclassman, he stressed the importance of maintaining a winning attitude as next season comes around.
“You can really take it away from this season,” he said. “We did win the conference, finished sixth in the county, which is high. I just feel that a winning attitude is going to continue on the court next season. I think there will be a four-peat in the conference.”
As in every season, there were team highs and lows. “Definitely, a high point of the season was winning our conference for the third straight season, finishing sixth at the county tournament. Last year, we finished eighth. We were only seven points behind from finishing fifth. Again, amongst those big schools,” Raguseo explained.
Losing in the state quarterfinals was this year’s low, Raguseo said. “Not finishing where we did last year was a little bit of a letdown. Last year, we got to the semifinals,” he said.
The Crusaders went into the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 state tournament bracket as the No. 5 ranked team. They defeated No. 12 ranked Somerville High School in the first round by winning four of five games in that matchup, before losing to No. 4 seeded Manasquan High School in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Looking forward, the team hopes to surpass their performance and record in 2016.
For some, though, the experience of the last four years and the success of 2015 is what they’ll remember. The seniors on the team will graduate in a few short weeks.
“I feel like I’m going to miss just about everything. Playing every day, the heart, sweat, and tears that come with every match,” Filiciello said. “I’m going to miss Coach Raguseo, as he molded me into the man I’ve become today. I’m going to take that with me to college. I can’t thank him enough for making me who I am, as a person and as a tennis player.”