BY DAVID RUSSELL
Maspeth High School’s tennis team finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record, but this comes as no surprise to head coach Ryan Stansfield.
“I had very high expectations coming into the season,” Stansfield said. “Last year, we made a run to the final four and we brought back all our players.”
This is the last run for a number of seniors on the team, the first group of seniors in team history.
“This is a very special group for me,” Stansfield said. “We started the program four years ago. To see them progress is nice and it’s a unique situation. They really dedicated time to their craft.”
The coach said that the team has come a long way since the first days of the program.
“Most of them were at the beginner level,” Stansfield said. “Most of the credit in their development goes to them. They really dedicated themselves. They play together even when there’s no formal practice.”
The coach added that he saw a huge jump in capability when players returned from a summer of playing with their friends and family.
One standout is Cosmo Amabile, a first singles player, who had been a sub and then a doubles player before becoming a first singles player.
“He’s now our top consistent player,” Stansfield said. “He spends so much time working on things with his father and brothers.”
The other team leader is Patryk Bitiucku, the second singles player.
“He’s come an extremely long way,” Stansfield said of Bitiucku, whom the coach added is a strong server. “He’s a junior, so we’re looking forward to having him back.”
Stansfield is also the soccer coach at Maspeth High School, although the tennis team requires more one-on-one work.
“Both are team sports, but the nature of tennis can be individual,” Stansfield said. “You coach players with their individual strengths and weaknesses. In soccer, you can focus on things the team is doing well or not well, but it’s rare to work with an individual player. In tennis, you can work on a serve or a backhand.”
Home matches took place this season at Forest Park, while practices were held at Juniper Valley Park, a public park where it was often difficult to find space to run drills.
“The biggest obstacle to overcome was finding a place to practice,” Stansfield said.
But considering the dominance that Maspeth High School showed over other teams in its league this season, finding a practice court was a greater challenge than the matches.
“I would definitely say that, yes,” Stansfield agreed, laughing.