In the 2012 state playoffs, the Bulldogs garnered a bye in the first round, but dropped a home game to Madison in the Group 2, North 2 state semi-finals.
There is no doubt what the target for Rutherford head coach Mike Mayerczak and the Bulldogs are this year: a state playoff victory.
“It would be nice to have the kids win a round this season,” said Mayerczak.
After a slow start, Rutherford has won seven matches in a row. But Mayerczak will find out where his team stands on Monday against Glen Rock. Rutherford lost to the Panthers in the first week of the season. A victory over Glen Rock would tie them for first in the new North Jersey Interscholastic Conference Colonial Division.
Not bad for a team that has only two returning players from the 2012 squad.
Those two, seniors Billy Kwon and Vishal Kamdar, are the first and second singles for the team.
For Kwon, this is the second year in a row as the number one singles. But after a slow start to the 2013, he has turned it around.
“He’s always been a slow starter,” said Mayerczak who added that the bad weather cut severely into the pre-season for the tennis team. “He’s started to play better and putting things together.”
Kamdar has been unstoppable in the 2013 season, going 9-0. “He was very dedicated during the offseason and he’s gotten better this season,” said Mayerczak.
At third singles is freshman newcomer Bula Kanefu, who is 8-1 in the first nine matches. “He’s been pretty solid this season,” said Mayerczak.
Where the inexperience of the 2013 team has shown up is in doubles as the best doubles team have played together for an extensive period of time.
In 2013, all of the top doubles players are juniors. The first doubles squad is Nani Bhadiyardara and Eric Kresaty while the second doubles is Anziq Ahmed and Sahbo Mulic.
In the first week, all four were not together because of spring break. But since then, both doubles teams have improved immensely.
“With double teams, you need to know where the other player is on the court,” said Mayerczak. “They are really starting to jell together. But they need to be more aggressive especially by going to the net.”
One of the biggest challenges for Mayerczak is to set up quality matches. Most of the schools in the NJIC Colonial Division are not considered tennis schools. The Bulldogs schedule does include some crossovers in the NJIC including Park Ridge, Secaucus and Harrison.
In addition to the dual matches, Rutherford was part of the Comet Invitational on the weekend of April 20 and 21. The Bulldogs tied for first in the tournament, but tiebreakers placed Rutherford in third place behind Bergenfield and Park Ridge.