MAPLEWOOD, NJ – At Columbia High School, one of the sports with a great tradition is tennis. Cougar net fans still talk about the achievements of such talented players as Dick Savitt and Dan Nahirny on the boys’ side, and Marjorie Gantman on the girls’ side.
This fall, the girls’ team, coached by Dave Erdos, had another fine season, despite going up against a very challenging schedule. Columbia, which had an all-senior starting lineup, went 12-8. Even in its losses, the Maplewood school played well for the most part.
“I was very pleased with our season,” said Erdos, who vied in cross-country and track & field for CHS in the late 1970s. “All our kids were quite competitive in every match. They all had a great attitude, and they were dedicated to the sport.”
The only starter who played the same position as she did in 2017, was Marley Davis at first doubles. Rebecca Brown, who competed at No. 2 doubles a year ago, teamed up with Davis this season.
“They played a very consistent brand of tennis,” said Erdos. “They had the kind of endurance that enabled them to stay out on the court for long matches.”
Columbia, which enjoyed playing at the new courts at the Baird Community Center in South Orange, spotlighted senior Katya Silverman-Stoloff at the No. 1 singles position. A year ago, she competed at No. 3 singles.
“Katya had to play some tough opponents, but she held her own,” siad Erdos. “She had a nice year for us.
“Heck, this is a great tennis county. Teams like Millburn, Newark Academy and Livingston are always among the best in the state.”
Columbia, which defeated Nutley in the first round of the ECT before falling to Newark Academy, complemented Silverman-Stoloff with two solid players at No. 2 and No. 3 singles. Hannah Gross vied at No. 2 while Lily Wilson competed at the No. 3 spot. In 2017 Gross vied at first doubles and Wilson played at second doubles.
“Hannah particularly impressed me with her great athletic ability,” said the coach. “Lily was as consistent as anyone on our squad.”
Hanna Lee and Lulu Mansfield-Greenwald, two new starters, vied at No. 2 doubles. They continued to improve as the year moved along.
Off the bench, Columbia used senior Mia Weinberg at No. 2 doubles in certain situations. Columbia had a number of underclassmen on the roster, and Erdos is looking for those players to step up in 2019.
“To succeed in tennis, you have to be able to do a number of things well,” explained Erdos. “And you also have to be mentally tough and be able to stay focused.
“In coaching the boys and girls, I think the male players usually have more shots in their arsenal. That’s why a player like Roger Federer is so successful. Of course it’s the same for Serena Williams on the women’s side. I don’t think anyone in this game has been better than those two, and they’re still playing at a very high level.”
COURT NOTES – Before the start of the 2018 U.S. Open, Erdos and several of his players saw some practice rounds at the event, including a match featuring John and Patrick McEnroe…
The crazy weather affected the 2018 fall net season, particularly in terms of practice.
Photos courtesy of Dave Erdos