TENNIS PREVIEW: George Easley of Delbarton has unfinished business

TENNIS PREVIEW: George Easley of Delbarton has unfinished business

News

TENNIS PREVIEW: George Easley of Delbarton has unfinished business

By

Delbarton’s George Easley was a major part of his team’s run to a 12th consecutive Morris County Tournament last spring, winning the second singles title while playing through a painful hip flexor injury.

That same injury, however, forced the Green Wave co-captain to the sidelines and made him a reluctant spectator as he watched his team fall to Don Bosco Prep in the NJSIAA Non-Public North A final.

Now, the senior is back and ready to make up for lost time.

“It was difficult sitting out and watching us come up just short against Don Bosco,” Easley said. “There is nothing more frustrating for any athlete than to be forced out of the lineup because of an injury and not be able to help the team when they need it most. We had a few injuries during the year that forced us to juggle our lineup. I’m definitely using that as a main source of motivation and so is the team heading into this season.”

Easley finished his junior season with a 14-3 record and captured the MCT second singles title after moving up from second doubles a year earlier. This season, he is looking forward to teaming with fellow co-captain Mike Boyle at first singles to form one of the most potent one-two punch combination at the top of the singles lineup. But Easley also realizes that staying healthy through the entire season with an injury that never truly goes away is the key to his individual success and his team’s ultimate goals of winning county and state titles.

“I’m as healthy as I can be heading into the season,” Easley said. “I did a lot of rehab work on the hip leading up to the school year and that’s really helped. It’s as much a mental battle as it is physical at times. I have to work harder and be more committed to making sure that I stretch and warm up more before practice and matches and that I continue to do things like yoga to improve the condition. Once I’m one the court, though, I really don’t think about it and just try to play my game.”

Easley is joined at the top of the Green Wave singles lineup by Boyle, the defending MCT first singles champion who posted a 25-6 record and advanced to the Round of 16 at the NJSIAA state singles tournament. The duo will be joined by junior Parker Pridgen, who played both first doubles and third singles last season, in rounding what should be solid singles lineup.

“Our singles lineup is pretty experienced,” Easley said. “It’s going to be up to Mike and myself and senior co-captains to be there for the younger guys (at doubles) and help figure out how we make the team better.

“Our main goal every year is to win counties and get to the Tournament of Champions. We take nothing for granted because we know that we have a target on our backs and that everyone wants to knock us off. We spend a lot of time talking about that and about our mental preparation for the season.”

Delbarton will find out where it ranks statewide pretty quickly, as it hosts the 21st Annual Bryan Bennett Invitational Tournament on April 12-13 and featuring heavyweights such as Haddonfield, Holmdel, Livingston, Newark Academy, Westfield, West Windsor South, and local rival Mountain Lakes, who should be among the top teams in Morris County this spring.

“That’s a tournament we always look forward to,” said Easley. “It’s a chance to play against some of the best teams in the state and find out where we stand.”

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports