Marlboro bounced back after an early-season loss to top-ranked Holmdel on Thursday by defeating Manalapan 5-0 in a Shore Conference Class A North match on Friday.
Even with the early loss to Holmdel, Mustangs head coach Dave Kretzmer has been happy with the way his team has opened this season.
“They have been playing tough, we’ve had some good matches so far,” Kretzmer said. “If we keep playing like this we can make a run deep in the Shore Conference Tournament, and hopefully give Holmdel a run for their money.”
The Mustangs won’t look too far ahead, with the present goal trying to lock up a Class A North title. No. 2 Marlboro (1-1, 1-0) took a first step by beating No. 9 Manalapan (2-1, 1-1).
“Our goal every year is to try and go out and win A North, it’s too early to start thinking about states, ” Kretzmer said. “We know we have a tough section, so we have to try and hone our skills in order to make a run at it.”
Alex Raman will lead the way for Kretzmer at first singles this year. He defeated Manalapan’s James Zhang 6-2, 6-1 for the first point of the match.
“We came in and expected to win this one,” Raman said.
Raman found himself making a key adjustment after talking with Kretzmer early in his match.
“James was hitting the ball really hard early, he was playing well,” Raman said. “I tried to play each point a little more back and consistent, and that ended up working for the match.”
Marlboro’s David Xie and Manalapan’s Chris Natividad had the most competitive match at second singles, with most of the points ending after eight to ten shots from each player. It was Xie who ended up with the win, 7-5, 7-6 (5), coming back from a 5-6 deficit in the second set.
At third singles Marlboro freshman Matt Cruz defeated Jay Kasakove 6-1, 6-2. Cruz has been a good addition to Kretzmer’s squad, and will be a big factor in how far the Mustangs advance in the Shore Conference Tournament.
Expectations are high for Raman and the rest of the Mustangs, who believe they have a shot at a long run in the SCT.
“We have some major goals this year,” Raman said. “I think we have a really good shot at the division title this season, and we are confident we can do some damage in the SCT.”
Returning senior starters Kenny Lau and Raghav Gupta are also important at first doubles this season, if the Mustangs are to meet their own expectations. Lau and Raghav took care of business after defeating the Braves’ Alex Wang and Chris Colen 6-0, 6-3.
“Our team is shaping up to be pretty good this year,” Raman said. “We are strong at doubles and can only get better as the season moves on.”