North Pocono lads off to a respectable start
Tennis hasn’t been a strong point for North Pocono's boys’ athletics over the past few springs. Last year, the Trojans finished last among Lackawanna League AAA teams with a 1-13 record.
Of the NP players that competed in both district singles and doubles championships, none made it past the opening bracket.
However, with a new coaching staff and some reinvigorated team members, the Trojans are looking to make strides in a new direction.
Taking the helm this year for the boys' program is Head Coach Kevin Nardella.
The new Trojan skipper will be assisted by Mark Burnett. With three seniors starting in the singles spots, as well as a good mix through the team North Pocono could gain some momentum.
Against perennial powerhouse Scranton Prep, they suffered a 5-0 loss, but managed to take six games in doubles play.
“We felt pretty good about that, especially since our guys don’t have the experience that Prep's players do,” said Nardella.
“One thing about these guys that’s certain,” said the Trojans coach, “They are a lot of fun to be around.”
Taking up the racquets this season for the Trojans are Tim Pickarski at first singles, Eric Wolfe at second singles, and Nikhil Patel at third singles.
This trio of seniors is complemented by classmate Vince Cianfichi with sophomore Brian Castrogiovanni at first doubles and senior Jacob Keiper with freshman Alex Ni at second doubles.
Junior Jimmy Bianchi, a doubles usual, and sophomore Noah Budnovitch, a singles player, round out the North Pocono squad.
“It’s a growing team,” explained Nardella, “We have a lot of first-year and second-year players, but they have a lot of talent for people without much experience.
“We need to not make a lot of mistakes and focus on working our opponents. We also have a lot of speed we hope to use to our advantage.”
North Pocono fared as well against Holy Cross and West Scranton as they did versus Prep.
Following a packed first week of April, the Trojans get a small break before hosting Wallenpaupack on 4/10 and Valley View the next afternoon.
On 4/12 they head to Delaware Valley and stay away for two more matches, Riverside on 4/15 and
Western Wayne on 4/17. NP is home against Dunmore on 4/22 and back on the road to duke it out with Honesdale on 4/24.
They’ll close at home when Abington Heights visits on 4/25.
Should they qualify for the district team playoffs, the Trojans will enter that contest during the first week of May. Singles and doubles tournaments will follow on days TBD.
“There’s opportunities with this team,” Nardella said. “In the Lackawanna League, I think we can be competitive with a lot of teams this season and in the long run, I think we can keep things going with our younger talent.”
Forward & Back
Heading into midweek action, Abington Heights, Scranton Prep and Valley View were tied atop the Lackawanna League standings with undefeated records.
The Comets are defending champs coming off a 12-2 regular season and a run to the District Two Class AAA title.
The Cavaliers went 13-1 in the league, but then lost a heartbreaker to Dallas in the 2018 Class AA finals.
North Pocono's most recent appearance in the district tournament came back in 2015. The Trojans posted a 10-4 league record that season and earned a four seed in the Class AAA bracket.
The local lads defeated Valley West in the quarters, but then were eliminated by eventual champion Abington in the semifinals.