Brighton has high hopes for the 2010 season.
Last year, as Brighton’s Alex Russin was battling for a win in the Section 5 Class A boys tennis team finals, he looked over his shoulder and saw some of his former teammates. The former Barons were on hand to support the current Brighton standouts and watch them secure a sectional title, something that had eluded them the previous two seasons.
Russin and his teammates were successful on that spring afternoon, defeating McQuaid. As Russin finishes his career, the moment of sharing a sectional championship with his teammates is something he is looking forward to doing with a new crop of Barons.
Brighton begins the 2010 season well equipped to repeat as Sectional champions. The Barons returns six players from last year including Yoni Zuckerman who has emerged to become one of the top players in Section 5.
“I think we should have a lot of confidence going into the season,” said Ralph Damerell, Brighton’s head coach. “We have been pretty successful the last couple of years. Overall, we are looking forward to a successful season but there are always challenges out there.”
The Barons rolled through the regular season last year losing only to league rival Pittsford Sutherland. The Barons and Knights shared the Monroe County Division III title with Pittsford Mendon.
The Barons then cruised through the Class A tournament defeating McQuaid 5-2 in the finals. If Brighton can repeat in Class A this year it would be the team’s fifth sectional championship in the last seven years.
“I think we have a lot of teamwork with this group,” Zuckerman said about this year’s team. “No one is really trying to be above the team. We all work together and support each other. I think a lot of it has to do with the work we put in during the offseason.”
After finishing 13-3 last year Zuckerman is hoping to earn a trip to Flushing in June for the state tournament. He is just a piece in one of the top lineups in Section 5.
Russin, who played at third singles last season, should occupy one of the four starting singles spots. Returning doubles players from last year include Riley Damerell, Tony Zhao, Andrew Toia and Evan Silverman.
Damerell and Zhao were undefeated at first doubles last season.
“We have a nice mix of youth and experience,” Damerell said. “We are going to use four or five players in our lineup from the (junior varsity), and their development is going to be key.”
While their is experience throughout the roster there are also going to be plenty of players who spent time on the junior varsity last year starting this spring.
Eighth grader Aaron Mevorach and sophomore Chris Hayes are among the younger players expected to start right away. The duo is among the four underclassmen who will be in the starting lineup.
Coaches and players have been impressed with the younger players development this preseason.
“I think our youth is definitely going to be one of our strengths,” Russin said. “I think that we have one of the deepest teams in Section 5. I think because of all the young talent we have we can be strong for several years.”
Coaches and players are expecting Mendon and Sutherland to be the team’s toughest challenger in Division III. In sectionals, it could come down to a rematch of last year’s Class A final with crosstown rival McQuaid.
The Barons have a difficult schedule before the postseason though beginning with a match against Fairport at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Brighton.
“I think that after how well last season went, we are hoping we can get that undefeated record,” Toia said.