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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 27, 2010

Calamity plagues Blackbird tennis team in 2010

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– Before this year, Tom Kurkjian had never seen a season-ending injury in 35 years of coaching boys’ tennis at Voorheesville. This year, he witnessed three players go down.

“It was just a bizarre year,” said Kurkjian, who also saw three more players disappear because of commitment issues. “I never lost a starting player before. I’ve seen plenty of injuries, but they always come back. It was strange.”

Sophomore David Suozzo, who was coming in as the number-two seed for the team, tweaked his ankle before the season. Suozzo turned the same ankle in his first match and was sidelined for the year.

Number-four seed Russ Daly broke his arm skateboarding before tennis even started. Paul Rothberg, an eighth-grader, broke his wrist during a mysterious accident.

“All of those players had great potential,” Kurkjian said. “It was an awful way to start things, but I thought we could rebound.”

Kurkjian decided to play the remaining athletes in order of ability. “I switched kids in and out for every match,” he said. “The wins and losses didn’t really matter to me. I just wanted the guys to experience competitive tennis.”

The Blackbirds finished the season with a 3-5 record in the Colonial Council. The team didn’t participate in sectionals.

“I don’t think the team was ready for sectionals,” said Kurkjian. “We were missing too many players.”

However, senior Stephen Barron, the number-one seed for Voorheesville, made it to the individual Section II tournament at Central Park in Schenectady. Barron lost, 8 to 2, to a player from Averill Park in the first round.

“He got a good draw and I think he could have won that match,” said Kurkjian. “He played better than the score indicates.”

“Tennis is a really big part of life for some people,” Barron said. “I’m fairly committed to the sport, but probably not as much as someone from a bigger school.”

Coach Kurkjian went out of his way to mention freshman Nicholas Celeone because Celeone reminds him of “players from the past that love the game.” Celeone won a few matches as the three seed. “It looks like he wants to play tennis more often,” Kurkjian said of Celeone.

Junior Nick Pettograsso was a first-time player for the Blackbirds, and Kurkjian said that he was a good example of progression. “He kept getting better and better,” said Kurkjian. “Hopefully, he’ll keep playing.”

Senior Tyler Moore played four years for Voorheesville and competed in every match this season. “I saw passion in his play,” Kurkjian said. “It’s hard to read people sometimes, but he had emotion out there. He was in the moment.”

On top of all the injuries, the team was affected by the unexpected death of junior Jerry Clark. It cast a shadow over the last two weeks of play.

“Some of the kids got really down about it,” said Kurkjian. “It was truly a bizarre spring season.”

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