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The Journal magazines are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Sep 02, 2021

Holmdel Girls’ Tennis Sees Record Number of Tryouts

By Emily Chang

holmdel boys tennis 2019

When Holmdel sports come to mind, tennis dominates many conversations related to athletics. The girls’ team, in particular, has experienced a consistent record of success, making them stand out as one of the top-seeded teams in the county with a No. 9 ranking in the NJ.com Top 20 last year. And despite the unprecedented nature of the 2020-21 season with social distancing measures and a decreased number of games, the team continued to persevere with a strong record.

While the progression of the pandemic remains unclear, the upcoming season appears promising. Under the leadership of Coach Don Russell, these Hornets are focused and determined. Russell’s experience and familiarity with the team is a major asset as this will be his third year as head coach of the girls’ varsity team, aided by Assistant Coach Sophia Kalajian. Russell has also coached the girls’ junior varsity team for five years and previously coached the Rumson-Fair Haven boys’ varsity team since 1983.

This year, 35 girls are trying out for varsity tennis – a record amount in Russell’s experience with the team. While he is excited to witness such enthusiasm and interest in the sport, only about 26 girls will make the final cut.

“We have five strong returning starters and some very talented freshmen who could break into the starting lineup,” Russell said.

The athletes have high expectations for themselves, with goals including strong performances in their division and Shore Conference, as well as state tournaments. The girls have continued to work hard and train over the summer in preparation for these important matches.

“Our goal is always to represent our school to the best of our ability,” Russell said. “[We hope] to make our school and community proud of us and to carry on the winning tradition of Holmdel tennis.”