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Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

CASEY BERSON OF Monticello makes a return at a recent practice. She is playing first doubles this year.

What's Ahead For
Monticello Tennis

By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO — September 28, 2001 – Valley Central, the only team to beat Monticello in girls’ tennis league play a year ago, moved up to the big-school conference this fall.
“Which is just where they should be,” noted Monticello coach Urvashi “Tutu” Gupta. “They beat us 4-3 both times last season.”
Monticello finished 10–2 in the OCIAA Central Conference a year ago (10–3 overall) for the best season to date in Gupta’s tenure.
With the Class A school gone and much of the Panther lineup returning, Gupta looks forward to another successful season.
“We’re still in a tough conference,” Gupta said, noting the presence of Class A schools Washingtonville, Minisink Valley, Warwick and Port Jervis. “I’m not familiar with some of those teams and don’t know what to expect.”
Also on the non-league slate for the Monties are Kingston, Middletown and Monroe-Woodbury.
“These are huge schools with a lot of facilities and I’m happy in one way because the competition should be good,” Gupta noted. “It’s a good idea to be exposed to that kind of competition, but at the same time I’m worried about how we’ll fare.”
Monticello’s only loss so far this season came to Valley Central, which leads the American Conference with a 4–0 record at press time.
The Panthers closest match within the conference was a 4-3 win over Washingtonville on September 13. Kim Franklin and Casey Berson clinched the match with a first-doubles victory.
Junior Caitlin Gunther is first singles for a third straight year. Gunther, 11–3 in regular season play in 2000, wa the third seed at the OCIAA Tournament last fall. She lost in the tourney semifinals to Jackie Gurda of Goshen, the eventual runner-up.
Gunther was the only county player to qualify for the Section IX Tournament, and was eliminated in the first round.
“I expect her to do quite well, and she’s got the potential to do very well,” said Gupta. “She went to a tennis camp over the summer,. and is one of the few who plays in the off-season.”
Soph Ashley Bloom moved up from fourth singles (11–2 in 2000) to second singles while junior Brady Dollard remains at third singles. Dollard compiled a 10–3 record last year.
For two years, Lauren Brinkerhoff and Casey Berson were dominant at second doubles for the Panthers, losing just one match.
“They’ve responsible for a lot of our success,” praised Gupta.
This year the two have been split up. Brinkerhoff, a junior, will move to fourth doubles while Berson will team with freshman Kim Franklin at first doubles.
“Casey is a great motivator with a lot of experience,” Gupta said.
The second and third doubles situation is fluid, with Gupta trying different combinations.
They include juniors Rebecca Grossfield and Ilana Dubrowski, freshman Janessa Shaw and seventh grader Alexis Brinkerhoff.
“Alexis passed a very tough physical fitness exam to be on the varsity,” Gupta said.
“Nobody knows what to expect,” Gupta summed up the season.

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