Hornets repeat as county tennis tourney champions

first_img The lineup is different for Holmdel High School’s boys tennis team, which graduated its top two singles players and a first doubles standout from last season, but the success continues as the squad won its second straight Monmouth County Tournament title on May 2. Holmdel got championship efforts from sophomore Dawan Chou-Ren in third singles, 6-0, 6-2, over Marlboro High School’s Ryan Lau and from both doubles teams in straight sets against opponents from Manasquan High School as Holmdel nailed down its fourth county title in five years. “They played well, even though it was a tough weekend because it was so hot,” said coach Chuck Chelednik, whose team on Monday this week played Marlboro in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. “This year the team is just as good, maybe better.” Holmdel, in a 13-2 season coming into this week, has won seven in a row after losing to Moorestown High School. It also lost to Livingston High School in the finals of the Delbarton Tournament early in the season. In the Shore Conference Tournament, Holmdel already has beaten Marlboro, 4-1, and also has 4-1 victories against the other two teams in the other semifinal bracket — Christian Brothers Academy and Manasquan. “The key is both doubles, because we won both when we played Marlboro, although second doubles went three sets, and we know we can get a win from one of our singles,” said Chelednik. Derek Liu, only the second freshman to play first singles in Chelednik’s 11 seasons as head coach, lost in the semifinals of the Monmouth County Tournament, but his only other loss was to a Livingston player. He has beaten every opponent in Shore Conference A Central, where the team is 6-0. Liu fills that spot for Sean Lu, who graduated and went on to play at The College of New Jersey. “He’s very consistent with his backhand and his serve,” Chelednik said of Liu. “He hits a lot of balls back and is very competitive in the way he plays every point.” David Lyu, a junior, is 9-5 in second singles, but the captain who moved up from third singles, where he played last season, played some of his best tennis in the county tournament, losing a super tiebreaker in the third set, 12-10, in the second singles finals. Chou-Ren saw some action last season at third singles and second doubles, and has only one loss in conference matches in third singles this spring. “With second and third singles, I’m most proud of them in the county tournament,” said Chelednik. “Our second singles player avenged a loss to a player from Manasquan in the semifinals, and our third singles swept straight sets all the way through.” Chelednik said Lyu and Chou-Ren play with different styles. “Chou-Ren is very consistent and is in great shape from running track,” said Chelednik. “He’s not overpowering but is very steady and pretty good around the net. “Lyu hits a lot of big shots and has a bigger serve, bigger strokes, a big backhand,” he added. In first doubles, junior Charles Seifer and sophomore Ganesh Naturajan won, 6-4, 6-3. They come into the week with a 12-2 record. Second doubles has been a rotation of five different pairs, with Mark Li, a sophomore, and Jacob Yung, a junior, winning in the county title match, 6-4, 6-2. In fact, there was a third doubles non-scoring championship, and two Holmdel teams got into that final, with senior Eddie Park and junior Neeve Nikoo beating juniors Jay Cheng and George Xu. Two other pairs who also play in second doubles are sophomores David Tu and Ken Hua, as well as junior Jon Wu and freshman Ethan Wong. Combined, they are 11- 3. That makes up the entire squad. There is no junior varsity. Chelednik said despite the different ethnic backgrounds of players, whose roots are in China, Korea, Japan and India as well as other nations, “they get along great and have great chemistry. They’re a good group that plays well together.” BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img read more