Tuckerton/Little Egg Harbor Leader Spring Sports Preview

Pinelands Regional Boys Tennis Team Loaded for Bear in 2019

Solid Senior Base, Freshman Spark
Apr 05, 2019

Many a high school athletic coach would love to be in the position of Brian Jones as he enters his eighth year as head coach of the Pinelands Regional High School boys tennis team. Jones already had success, with his teams going 114-35 since he took the helm of the program. His 2018 squad went 12-8. And considering he has four senior starters returning, you would have to expect the team will be even more competitive this spring.

“We are led by four seniors who have been waiting for this opportunity,” Jones said about Andrew Schulz (11-12 at first singles last season); Arpit Gainder (15-7 at second singles in 2018); Samuel Cardillo, who racked up a dozen wins compared to seven losses at first doubles; and Kieran Sundermann, who went 8-6 playing doubles.

“These boys are excited to play and compete. You can feel the energy at every practice.”

Yes, Pinelands looked to be solid entering the 2019 campaign. But now the Wildcats look to be stacked, thanks to the addition of freshman Brian Delbury.

There aren’t many freshmen who can nail down a starting role of any sort on high school tennis teams. Delbury not only will start for Jones, but he will be the team’s first singles entry.

“The boys know this is a bittersweet feeling because they are not happy about losing their spots from last season,” said Jones of his senior leaders. “However, they are now playing one flight down, so the competition should be easier.”

So, what made Delbury rise so quickly to the top of the roster? He was born into a tennis family. Jones said Delbury has been hitting balls since he was old enough to hold a racquet. He’s been training at the Loveladies Tennis Club and Southern Ocean Tennis since about age 5. Delbury began competing in United States Tennis Association sanctioned tournaments before he was a teen, and currently holds a USTA rank of 74th in the Middle States Region boys 14s category; he is ranked 150th in the boys 16s.

The USTA Middle States Region consists of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the central and southern parts of New Jersey. Delbury has a USTA tournament championship under his belt, and took home the January Middle States award for sportsmanship.

It is easy to see why Jones was eagerly awaiting Delbury’s arrival. But the youngster still had to beat out Schulz and Gainder to earn the coveted first singles slot. Jones runs a tournament style ladder when formulating his teams; Delbury defeated Gainder, seeded second in the ladder, in the semifinals and Schulz, seeded first, in the final.

Does Jones have an angel looking over him? The coach is being blessed not only with Delbury, but also with two other underclassmen who could make an immediate impact on the team at doubles: sophomore Josh Kline and freshman Adam Grelak. Toss in sophomore Johnny Hart, who played eight doubles matches last season and won four, and it is easy to see the 2019 Pinelands team will have depth galore.

The roster is filled out by seniors Kevin Watson, Iskender Yilmaz and Brian Rood; juniors Angel Santos, Matthew Steffens, Justin Minor and Didier Beaubrun; sophomores Carter Mathis, Bryle Ramos, Andrew Jenkins, Dylan Snyder and Shayne Michot; and freshmen Michael Staino, James Cahil, John Staino, Daniel MacCarthy, Andrew Falduto, Zach Triebel and Andrew Watson.

“Our goals are the same as every season,” said Jones. “We want to win (Shore Conference division) B-South; win or place in the top three of the Ocean County Tournament; and win a state championship.”

The greatest threats in B-South, said Jones, are Donovan Catholic, Lacey and Jackson Liberty.

— Rick Mellerup

rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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