2017 Boys Tennis Preview: Seeking Net Success

Gloversville’s Kyle Fonda hits a two-handed backhand during a match last season. Fonda is one of several returning players for the Huskies this season, (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

For the first time in program history, the Gloversville boys tennis team heads into the season as the defending Foothills Council champion.

The Huskies won the league title with a 14-2 record last season and finished with a 14-3 overall record.

“It’s nice to be starting this season as defending Foothills champions. The kids really enjoyed making history for the school last year and winning the Foothills was a lot of fun for them. Out of nine starting players last year, seven return this year and hopefully all of them have improved,” Gloversville coach Michael Bruce said. “The outlook is good for another Foothills title run, but I told them at the first practice this year, everyone wants your spot and will be playing harder then ever to get it. Gloversville is the benchmark this year for the Foothills and the other schools will be looking to knock us off the thrown. The attitude in practice has been very positive and upbeat. They are working just as hard as ever because they truly want a repeat performance.”

Gloversville, which will play all of its home matches at Knox Field in Johnstown, lost Scotty Bruce and Zach Catucci to graduation from last year’s team.

Scotty Bruce filled the No. 1 singles spot in last year’s lineup and was named a Foothills Council all-star. He went 15-4 last season and also earned the eighth seed for the Section II singles tournament, becoming the first Gloverville player to be seeded in the event. Scotty Bruce also teamed up with his brother, Damian, to win the Foothills Council doubles title.

Catucci was part of the No. 1 doubles team, which posted an 8-5 record.

The Huskies return several players from last year’s team, including Damian Bruce, Kyle Fonda, Brian Hugo, Nicholas Bruce, Cameron Biche, Ryan Issa, Nicholas Washburn, Libby Ashe, Alyssa Henley, Devina Eberts and Rami Issa.

Damian Bruce posted a 17-1 singles record last season, while Fonda (14-3), Hugo (16-1) and Nicholas Bruce (15-2) all won 14 or more singles matches a year ago. Damian Bruce was named a Foothills Council all-star.

Biche, Ryan Issa and Washburn were starting doubles players last season.

“They have been focused and pushing each other in conditioning drills. However, as much talent as we have coming back, everyone will be in a new role this year with Scotty gone. Everyone will be moving up one on the starting positions, therefore they must improve as players as the competition will be harder this year,” coach Bruce said. “Damian provides a solid anchor at the 1 spot stepping in for Scotty, but it’s a team effort. He will have to do his job up front and we will need help all the way to the back. Having strong doubles teams really increases your chances of winning and there’s no doubt some of our new players might land in that role. It also means we will have a new fifth singles player. I’m evaluating the players everyday looking for that consistency in their game to fill that spot.”

Newcomers Sophia Denise, Jenna Carbone, Alex Benfatti, Kadin Oshaughnessy, Feras Masri, Naseem Asfari and Asher Lopresti round out the Gloversville roster.

“We will be ready and hopefully get off to a good start and keep improving,” coach Bruce said. “This is going to be a special team to watch and I invite the folks in our area to come cheer them on and see some really good tennis being played. We hope we can add to our own history in the making for Gloversville tennis this year.”

Gloversville also is dedicating its season to James Luft, a former member of the team, who died in February after a battle with cancer.

“James was a player my first year of coaching the team in 1998,” coach Bruce said. He was a starting singles player and dedicated hard worker to the team and helped turn Gloversville tennis into a competitor for the first time.”

While Gloversville claimed its first league crown last season, Amsterdam struggled to a 2-14 overall and league mark.

“Two years ago, I had a team of almost exclusively seniors. They graduated and were replaced by an all freshman team,” Amsterdam coach Rick Von Ehr said. “These guys have improved each year, and as juniors this year and seniors next year, I expect them to be competitive.”

The Rams’ roster includes one senior, 11 juniors, three sophomores and a freshman.

Antonio Natole is Amsterdam’s lone senior, while Seth Decker, Reese Devine, Timothy DiCaprio, Nathan Grant, Michael Hughes, Stephen Knack, Michael Machold, Torin Nethaway, Fred Pinto, Daniel VanEps and Zachary Verde make up the large contingent of juniors.

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Spencer Flint, Nathan Lucente and Jaydeep Rathore, and freshman Philip Johnson.

Johnstown is not fielding a boys varsity tennis team this spring after posting a 3-13 overall record last season.

Both Amsterdam and Gloversville were scheduled to open their seasons Thursday, but we weather postponed the matches. Amsterdam is slated to travel to Queensbury today, while Gloversville is set to travel to Scotia-Glenville on Monday.

Boys Tennis Schedule

Thursday, April 6

Queensbury vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Schuylerville at Amsterdam, 4 p.m.

Friday, April 7

Amsterdam at Queensbury, 4 p.m.

Monday, April 10

Gloversville at Scotia-Glenville, 4 p.m.

Amsterdam at South Glens Falls, 4 p.m.

Wednesday, April 12

South Glens Falls vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Glens Falls at Amsterdam, 4 p.m.

Thursday, April 13

Gloversville at Amsterdam, 4 p.m.

Monday, April 24

Gloversville at Glens Falls, 4 p.m.

Amsterdam at Hudson Falls, 4 p.m.

Wednesday, April 26

Hudson Falls vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Scotia-Glenville at Amsterdam, 4 p.m.

Thursday, April 27

Gloversville at Schuylerville, 4 p.m.

Friday, April 28

Amsterdam at Schuylerville 4 p.m.

Monday, May 1

Schuylerville vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Queensbury at Amsterdam, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, May 2

Amsterdam, Gloversville at Foothills Council

Doubles Tournament (Queensbury), 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday, May 3

Scotia-Glenville vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 4

Gloversville at Queensbury, 4 p.m.

Friday, May 5

Amsterdam at Glens Falls, 4 p.m.

Monday, May 8

Amsterdam vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Wednesday, May 10

Glens Falls vs. Gloversville (at Knox Field), 4 p.m.

Hudson Falls at Amsterdam, 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 11

Gloversville at South Glens Falls, 4 p.m.

Friday, May 12

Gloversville at Hudson Falls, 4 p.m.

Amsterdam at Scotia-Glenville, 4 p.m.

By Paul Wager

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