Three years ago, a freshman boys tennis player stepped onto the court at SUNY New Paltz and won the Mid-Hudson Athletic League singles title for Franklin D. Roosevelt High School.
Now a senior, Jonah Berkowitz went on to win two more MHAL singles titles in as many years — and is pursuing a fourth consecutive title in this, his final season.
“This is my last year and it’s going to drive me to work harder and leave on a good note,” Berkowitz said. “I’ve been successful in past years, but there’s always more players in the section who are a challenge.”
Berkowitz finished his junior season with an 18-1 record in Section 9, including a third-place finish in the sectional tournament — giving him an automatic berth in the state tournament, where he was defeated in the first round.
“I definitely would say I’m looking for the team to have a successful year, that’s the priority,” Berkowitz said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces and almost everybody is in a new slot, which shows our team has good depth. It’s going to be different from previous years, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Roosevelt coach Bob Mayerhofer said he’s always looking for ways to improve Berkowitz’s game.
“We try to give Jonah as much tough competition as we can get,” Mayerhofer said. “We’re trying to add to his game, and he’s always trying to get better and be more aggressive.”
A season removed from sweeping the MHAL titles, including singles, doubles and the team championships, Roosevelt will have stiff competition this year, Mayerhofer said.
“Red Hook has a very young team that I expect to be very challenging,” Mayerhofer said. “Spackenkill always reloads each year and they’ll be ready to go as well.”
Roosevelt lost several key players from the last year’s roster, including its state-qualifying doubles duo of Kevin Ackerman, who graduated last June, and Dan Schroedl, who will miss most, if not all, of his senior season after re-aggrevating a previous anterior cruciate ligament injury that will require surgery.
“We’re a little thin with Danny Schroedl’s knee injury,” Mayerhofer said, though Roosevelt is not without doubles contenders. “Our second doubles team from last year — Dan Considine and Dominick Zadlow — didn’t lose a match and made it to sectionals.
“They’ve had a nice offseason and looked good in practice. We’re hoping they’ll pick up where Ackerman and Schroedl left off last year.”
Berkowitz said he’s ready for the season and isn’t satisfied with past successes.
“I’d like to get further in sectionals and make states,” Berkowitz said. “I think I’ve improved and hopefully I can show that this season.”