Red & Black tennis team finally gets out onto the hardcourt after overly long winter
This season promises to be an interesting one for members of Honesdale's boys varsity tennis team.
On the heels of a brutal winter ... and uncooperative early spring weather as well ... the Hornets headed into Week One Lackawanna League action with just two days of outdoor practice under their belts.
“It's been interesting, that's for sure,” said Coach Bill Gibney.
“There's only so much you can do with tennis in the gym, so now that we're finally outside we have a lot of catching up to do.”
Honesdale emerged from its snowy hibernation this week, just in time for the start of the Lackawanna League season.
The Red & Black kicked off their campaign with a pair of heartbreaking losses to Scranton (3-2) and Montrose (3-2).
Next up for the Hornets is a pair of road trips, one to Mid Valley (Thursday) and one to North Pocono (Friday). Both of these matches are slated for a 4:15 p.m. start.
This year's edition of the Honesdale varsity squad will be captained by three veteran players.
Max Kowalczyk, David Kirk and Gustin Reynolds are all seniors and each brings an unique skill set to the table.
“They're all good kids,' Coach Gibney said of his captains. “I'm expecting Max, Gus and David to give us excellent leadership on and off the court.”
Kowalczyk returns fro his second season at #1 singles. He is a four-year varsity starter and the Hornets' most polished player
“Max has wonderful form, he has very good ground strokes and he covers the court really well,” said Coach Gibney.
Kowalczyk opened his senior season with a straight set loss to Scranton's Prerak Patel (2-6, 4-6). He followed that up with an equally tough setback at the hands of Montrose's Bryan Schultz (3-6, 1-6).
Reynolds teams up with junior Mark Grandinetti at #1 doubles.
A second year varsity player, Reynolds and Grandinetti came together for the first time last spring at the district tournament.
“Gus played #2 doubles for us last year,” Coach Gibney said. “He's very athletic and quick. I think he and Mark should be a pretty good combination this year.”
Reynolds and Grandinetti turned in an outstanding performance Tuesday, rolling to a straight set win over the Montrose duo of Thomas Van Nostrand and Caleb Hoal (6-1, 6-4).
Kirk is a multi-sport standout who also excels in soccer. Unfortunately, David suffered a knee injury this fall and is still re-habbing.
Honesdale's starting line-up is an interesting mix of battle-tested veterans and talented youngsters.
Coach Gibney believes it will take a week or two to see what kind of chemistry develops on the court.
“We have potential to be a pretty decent team,” he said. “We're probably a year away from challenging any of the big boys, but I think the future looks bright.”
The “big boys” to whom Honesdale's skipper refers are Abington Heights, Scranton Prep, Valley View and Wallenpaupack Area.
In all likelihood, the Red & Black will be scrapping for a playoff bid somewhere in the middle of the pack this season.
To date, Delaware Valley and Abington are tied atop the Division I standings, while Prep and Dunmore are neck & neck in Division II.
On the Court
Tuesday's battle with the Montrose went right down to the wire before the Meteors emerged with a 3-2 decision.
Honesdale's Owen Walsh never backed down at #2 singles, but eventually absorbed a straight set loss (4-6, 2-6).
“Owen is pretty level-headed and a very consistent hitter,” Coach Gibney said. “He has the skills, but he needs a little bit more experience.”
Christian Kowalczyk is at #3 singles for the Hornets this spring. Honesdale's resident freshman phenom opened his season with a win against Scranton, but then went down in straight sets against Montrose.
“Even though this is just his first year on the varsity, Christian is already an experienced player,” Coach Gibney said. “He plays on the Tennis Ladder and he goes for lessons. I'm excited to see what Christian can do the next four years.”
Honesdale's final team points against Montrose came courtesy of its #2 doubles team.
The dynamic duo of Pat May and Torey Decker breezed to a straight set win over the Meteors' Andrew Bickford and Chris Lewis (6-1, 6-1).