During his boys’ tennis career at Middletown High School South, Andrew Rosenbloom accomplished something rare for a doubles player.
As a junior, Rosenbloom earned a spot in the singles lineup.
In high school tennis, singles spots are usually reserved for year round standouts. The kids who play in United States Tennis Association tournaments and earn regional, or even national, rankings.
But occasionally, a spot opens up and a good doubles player takes it. Rosenbloom did that in 2007 and 2008, his last two high school seasons.
Over a decade later, Rosenbloom is the boys’ tennis coach at his alma mater. His 2018 team went 16-4 and reached the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 quarterfinals, falling to Summit High School, 5-0.
The Eagles lost two singles players from that team after the season. So going into 2019, Rosenbloom’s top two doubles players, senior Dan Johnson and junior Colin Martin, will have a chance to make the same jump he made in high school.
For Middletown South to maintain its high standard, Johnson and Martin will have to make a smooth transition. They will also need to beat USTA players from other schools.
In other words, they will have to be the Rosenblooms of this generation.
Middletown South will open its season on April 1 at home against Marlboro High School.
“Both guys will be successful,” Rosenbloom said. “They are excited and ready.”
Middletown South’s top singles player, Matt Cardano, played with his teammates in the offseason, and he agrees that they are ready to play singles.
“Their games got more consistent and complete over the past year,” Cardano said.
Johnson has singles experience already. He played some matches at third singles as a sophomore at Middletown South. He also plays in tournaments outside of school, though not many USTA tournaments.
The senior prefers to hit like a singles player, too. He stays at the baseline and makes his opponents “hit one more shot,” Rosenbloom said.
Martin is also a natural singles player. The 6-1 junior serves hard and crashes the net to volley. He goes for winners from everywhere on the court.
“Colin is aggressive,” Rosenbloom said. “That should translate to singles.”
In New Jersey, tennis teams start three singles players and two doubles players. Win the singles spots and you win the match.
Johnson and Martin are essential to Middletown South’s success. If they succeed, the Eagles should too.
Plus, Rosenbloom already has a USTA standout at No. 1 singles in Cardano. Last spring, the junior went 13-3 and earned a First Team All-Shore Conference selection.
Cardano is like Johnson. He prefers to grind opponents down from the baseline. But in the past year, he turned his only real weakness, his serve, into a strength.
Now Cardano can play like Martin, too, and serve and volley opponents into submission. The ability to win in multiple ways should lead to a scintillating campaign for the junior.
“I don’t have to worry about first singles when he’s out there,” Rosenbloom said.
“My best thing was running down all the balls, but now I can be more offensive,” Cardano said. “To beat the top kids you have to play more offensively. They don’t miss.”
Like their second and third singles players, the Eagles should compete in 2019. Rosenbloom hopes to be in contention for the Shore Conference’s A North Division title and a top-10 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament.
Like their top singles player, though, the Eagles may even be great this spring. Their coach is eyeing local powers Marlboro and Christian Brothers Academy as barometers.
“To be competitive with them is the goal,” he said.