by Tom Utescher

After opening the Friends Schools League boys’ tennis schedule with perennial power Friends Central, the Germantown Friends Tigers evened out their FSL record at 1-1 and improved to 3-4 overall last Friday, when they swept the visiting Falcons of Friends Select School, 5-0.

Friends Select boys coach Jessica Smith felt right at home alongside the GFS courts, since she has spent the past few fall seasons as head coach of the Germantown Friends girls’ team. She helped guide the female Tigers to the 2011 Friends League championship.

In third singles action, GFS senior Alex Turner catches the ball off-the-bounce. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Germantown graduated five players from last year’s boys’ varsity squad, but there has been a strong turnout for the program this spring. Longtime head coach Brett Turner has been succeeded by Kim McMenamin, a northern New Jersey native and a former tennis player for Columbia University (’10).

McMenamin was an assistant coach during the 2010-2011 school year, and coached the Tigers’ JV girls team last fall. Over the winter, she worked with the middle school squash team at GFS, where she is also an assistant third grade teacher and a physical education instructor.

For Friends Central’s Smith, experienced gained from coaching the Germantown Friends girls has come in handy this spring, with the Falcons fielding a co-ed team that includes three girls in the varsity line-up. Two of them, junior Asha Davis and senior Sarah Berkowitz, play first and second singles, respectively.

GFS junior Zack Raynor, the returning number one for the Tigers, won 6-0, 6-0 against Davis in last Friday’s match, while Berkowitz fell, 1-6, 1-6, to Diego Sanz, a senior for the host team.

Another upperclassman, Alex Turner, posted a 6-1, 6-0 victory over visiting sophomore Davon Wanza at the third singles spot. Turner’s twin brother, Jarred, normally plays doubles on the varsity team, but he had another commitment last Friday.

Senior Clay Fairbanks joined forces with junior Madhav Nandan to capture a pair of 6-1 sets against the Falcons’ first doubles team, which featured sophomores Adam Fletcher and Arielle Alter. In the second flight of doubles the Tigers won 6-1, 6-0, as junior Nic Solomon and freshman Matt Peterson took the measure of two Friends Select juniors, Kevin Kim and David Youn.

With the toughest league opponent already behind them, the Tigers feel they’ll do more than well enough against the remaining FSL teams to make the league tournament, a goal they narrowly missed in 2011.

The four seniors will be able to focus fully on that task, since they’ve all completed the college selection process. Sanz will enter the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate, and Fairbanks has been admitted to Penn’s Wharton School. The Turner brothers will also receive Ivy League educations, Alex at Yale, and Jarred at Brown. With Columbia grad McMenamin at the helm, the GFS racquet squad already has ties to half of the Ancient Eight.

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