Columbia HS girls’ tennis team nets some positive returns

Pictured are members of the Columbia HS girls’ tennis team. Kneeling from left: Mia Weinberg, Julia Cataneo, Hannah Gross, Lexie Fox, Sarah Braka, and Lara Rudolph; standing: Hanna Lee, Lily Wilson, Katherine D’Andrea, Lee Thornton, Lulu Mansfield-Greenwald, Abby Ratner, and head coach Dave Erdos. Not pictured are Marley Davis, Rebecca Brown, and Katyia Silverman-Stoloff.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – As a student at Columbia High School in the latter part of the 1970s, Dave Erdos, the new head girls’ and boys’ tennis coach at the Maplewood school, admits he wasn’t all that interested in the sport.

For Erdos, his interest at that time was in sports like track and field and cross-country. Erdos, who graduated from CHS in 1977, participated in those sports for the Cougars.

However, as he got older, Erdos became more and more interested in the net sport. On the pro circuit, he had a lot of interest in players like Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.

Erdos, who was a special ed teacher in Irvington for many years, eventually got into the coaching ranks. He had stints at schools like Golda Och and West Orange, and in the college ranks at Caldwell.

Erdos is happy to be back at his alma mater, coaching a sport that he now thoroughly enjoys.

“We have a nice group this fall with the girls’ team,” said Erdos, whose team won five straight matches to improve to 7-4 recently. “We’ve had some positive results so far in 2017.”

In the Essex County Tournament, CHS opened up by defeating Nutley, but then fell to a strong Livingston squad, 5-0. Millburn went on to win the event over Newark Academy.

“Our county always has some quality programs,” said the first-year coach. “That’s true in both girls’ and boys’ teams.”

Columbia, which has produced such top female players as Marjorie Gantman and Becky Friedman, probably played its best match early in the campaign against West Essex, coming up with a 4-1 decision. The 5-0 ECT verdict over Nutley was also  a quality effort.

Columbia, which has had a couple of home matches at the historic Orange Lawn Tennis Club in South Orange, has basically gone with seven players this fall. The bench is led by seniors Lee Thornton and Katherine D’Andrea.

Competing at the tough No. 1 singles spot has been senior Sarah Braka. According to the coach, she plays “a very consistent game.”

At No. 2 singles, CHS spotlights senior Lexie Fox. The youngster has a powerful forehand, and is tough to beat when she’s focused on the court.

Junior Katya Silverman-Stolff, another very consistent performer, goes at No. 3 singles.

“We have a nice singles lineup,” said Erdos, “but I would like the kids to show more of a variety of shots on the court.”

Columbia, which has enjoyed competing at the newly resurfaced courts at the Baird Community Center, also has some quality players in doubles competition.

The No. 1 doubles team consists of juniors Hannah Gross and Marley Davis. Two more juniors, Lillian Wilson and Rebecca Brown, vie at No. 2 doubles.

“Hannah and Marley have begun to use more shots on the court,” stated Erdos, who enjoys watching baseball, football and basketball. “In doubles particularly, you have to do that in order to succeed. Hey, remember what the team of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming could do on the court.”

CHS, seeded fifth, will host No. 12 seed Phillipsburg in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2,Group 4 state tournament on Oct. 6. The winner will face the winner between No. 4 seed Westfield and No. 13 seed Elizabeth in the quarterfinals on Oct. 10. The semfinals are Oct. 13 and the final is Oct. 17.

COURT NOTES – Erdos says his team was “really excited” to see four women from the United States reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open in September…As a kid growing up in South Orange, Erdos had great admiration for Earl Monroe, the legendary guard of the Bulletts and Knicks….