NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - As the New Providence boys tennis team gets set to open its 2018 spring season, a competitive spirit has been prevalent around team circles.

After losing much of the core from last season’s team that advanced to the sectional finals, the Pioneers will need that competitive fire to help ease the process of replacing much of that core.

Despite the losses, David Goldstein has liked what he’s seen from his squad in preseason workouts.

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“We will be competitive in our Group and in our Conference despite having six new starters for singles and doubles this year,” Goldstein said.

Cristiano Hocken, Brian Kelly, John Souren, and Zachary Neidich are among last season’s starters that will need to be replaced. Kelly and Niedech were selected to last year’s Group 1 second team.

Thankfully for Goldstein, he has a trio of seniors in Christopher Kang, Anubhuv Anand, and Kevin Montrone that are up-to-the-task of taking on not only leadership roles, but producing at a high level.

“Chris, Anubhuv, and Kevin will be key players this year,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein also has a solid core of underclassmen at his disposal.

Sophomores Ethan Neidich and Sho Ogino return after gaining valuable varsity experience last season as freshmen. Goldstein has especially been impressed with Ogino.

“Sho will be playing singles this year,” Goldstein said. “He was an alternate on Varsity last year. His game has improved dramatically.”

As for newcomers to watch, Goldstein said the freshmen duo of Max Ortiz-Aheado and Nikhil Choudhary will be worth watching.

It’s no secret that the Pioneers are low on experience this year and Goldstein will be the first to admit it.

And compounding the inexperience issue is the fact that the Pioneers’ schedule will be no cakewalk.

“Our schedule is difficult as we play Westfield and Summit twice,” Goldstein said. “But overall I expect us to keep getting better and more competitive.”