Kearny girls’ tennis: Perfect service


viewThe Kearny High School girls’ tennis team recently completed a highly successful season in which the Kardinals were the co-champions of the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League-White Division with McNair Academic and posted a 17-4 record.

The 17-4 mark that the Kardinals attained was the program’s best in the four years that Alex Zulewski has been the head coach and the best in recent years.

The 17-4 record was also the high water mark for any program in the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV bracket.

So needless to say, it was a great year with his upstart girls.

“I thought we had a good chance of being competitive,” Zulewski said. “We had good girls coming back and an influx of good freshmen. But from the start of August, we were out there.”

Part of the reason why the Kardinals were so successful was their determination and desire.

“From the coaching staff on down to the kids, we had a tremendous work ethic,” Zulewski said. “We had 26 girls come out for the team, vying for just seven spots. We did a lot of conditioning in the morning, then came back and work on our skilled stuff.”

Throughout the hot summer days, Zulewski had his girls in West Hudson Park, doing an assortment of things.

“There are a lot of hills and stairs in West Hudson Park that made for good conditioning,” Zulewski said. “These kids were tough. They were able to handle it all. I didn’t hold back. We still had girls that were interested in being there. The interest was always there. I give them credit for that. When I knew that McNair and Bayonne were in our division, we knew we needed to have conditioned girls. We were ready. It was pretty awesome to see how hard they worked.”

Leading the way for the Kardinals was first singles player Zuzanna Lisek, who posted an impressive 16-2 record this season.
It was the third straight year that Lisek was the first singles player for the Kards.

“She has a lot of talent,” Zulewski said of Lisek. “She’s a very steady leader.”

The No. 2 singles player was Jill Boyle, who had a 13-4 mark there. Boyle made the jump up from second doubles to second singles this season.

“She challenged her way all the way up,” said Zulewski, who meant that Boyle won the spot by defeating all of her teammates. “She proved she belonged there. She made an overall commitment to the game playing all over, including Arlington (Tennis Club in Kearny). She wanted to get better and put in the practice time.”

Jeniffer Giulherme was the Kardinals’ third singles player.

“She’s our senior captain and our leader,” Zulewski said. “She was very consistent. The other girls all look up to her. She spends the time working with the others, especially the freshmen. She’s a good role model for the rest of the team.”

The first doubles pairing consisted of sophomore Paulina Tyszka and freshman Karen Uquillas.

Junior Emely Conza and junior Sophia Raza comprised the Kardinals’ second doubles team.

Zulewski knew that his team was going to have a successful campaign.

“I could see that they had that competitive fire,” Zulewski said. “Jill was very competitive and the kids seemed to feed off that. It’s very hard to teach that competitive fire.”

Obviously, the Kardinals had that fire.

There’s another positive aspect to the Kards’ season. Most of the players all return next season.

“We’re going to keep on moving in the right direction,” said Zulewski, who spent five years as the boys’ head tennis coach before moving on to coach indoor and outdoor track with head coach Al Perez. “As long as the girls keep on improving, we should be fine.”

Sure looks that way.

Learn more about the writer ...

Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”