by Tom Utescher

GFS junior Diego Sanz leans into a forehand stroke during last Thursday’s match at Abington Friends. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The conditions last Thursday were windy and not quite warm, but also sunny and dry. Given the frequent spells of wet weather this spring, the tennis teams from Germantown Friends School and host Abington Friends weren’t complaining.

GFS seniors Alex Nalle and Max Kaplan won the first doubles contest for the visiting Tigers, but the AFS Kangaroos captured the other doubles bout and all three singles matches to notch a 4-1 victory. The Friends Schools League officially plays in a three-singles, two doubles format, but most teams have enough varsity athletes for a few additional matches. GFS won a fourth singles encounter last Thursday, while Abington prevailed in a additional doubles match.

The Tigers departed with a 1-2 record in FSL competition and an overall mark of 1-3. Following a non-league 2-3 setback against neighboring Penn Charter, GFS began league play with a 5-0 sweep of Friends Select, then lost to Westtown, 1-4. Abington, which opened its FSL schedule with a win over Moorestown Friends, was 2-0 in the league and 4-2 overall after Thursday’s match.

Longtime Tigers coach Brett Turner feels that Friends Central and George School will once again vie for the top seed in the four-team playoff draw. With another formidable squad, Shipley, still ahead on the GFS schedule, the Tigers have their work cut out for them if they‘re to capture a berth in the FSL tourney.

Germantown graduated four seniors from its 2010 team, and Zach Raynor – already a varsity singles player on that squad as a freshman – has now moved up to the number one spot. He happens to live just around the corner from the Abington Friends campus, and has known AFS top gun Tim Israel for many years. Israel, a year older, got the better of Raynor last Thursday, 6-3, 6-4.

The Tigers’ Alex Turner also won more games in the second set than in the first, but the visiting junior eventually went down to the ‘Roos’ Jeff Busch, 2-6, 6-7 (4-7). Another GFS 11th-grader, Diego Sanz, succumbed 3-6, 1-6 to Abington number three Rohan Prabhu, completing a sweep for the hosts in the official singles matches.

In the exhibition number four match, Germantown’s Mike Pinover won 6-2, 6-0 over another senior, Mark London. Pinover is headed for Tulane University next year, and the Tigers’ co-captains, Kaplan and Nalle, will attend Brown and Tufts, respectively.

The latter two prevented a shut-out by Abington last Friday by beating the Kangaroos’ Dan Feinberg and Johnny Blum. The AFS twosome started off by taking the first set, 6-3, but the Tigers’ tandem won the second segment, 6-2. Because AFS had already clinched a team victory by this time, a super tiebreaker was played instead of a full third set, and Nalle and Kaplan prevailed, 10-6.

At second doubles, Alex Turner’s brother Jarred (no relation to Coach Turner) joined up with another junior, Clay Fairbanks. They played better as the match went on, but still lost, 1-6, 5-7 to a pair of Abington sophomores, Scott Brown and Jason Myers.

The participants in an exhibition doubles bout were the last players to take the court, and before they got through the first regular set, it was decided that their entire match would consist of one 10-game pro set. Abington’s John Simone and Jai Vaze rallied from a 2-5 deficit to win this one, 10-6, over Germantown seniors Cole McCourt and Scott Meltzer. Next fall McCourt will head downtown to the University of Pennsylvania, while Meltzer crosses the state to attend Allegheny College.

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