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 102 in the OCIAA Central Conference a year ago (103 overall) for the best season to date in Guptas tenure.
With the Class A school gone and much of the Panther lineup returning, Gupta looks forward to another successful season.
Were still in a tough conference, Gupta said, noting the presence of Class A schools Washingtonville, Minisink Valley, Warwick and Port Jervis. Im not familiar with some of those teams and dont 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 Im happy in one way because the competition should be good, Gupta noted. Its a good idea to be exposed to that kind of competition, but at the same time Im worried about how well fare.
Monticellos only loss so far this season came to Valley Central, which leads the American Conference with a 40 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, 113 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 shes 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 (112 in 2000) to second singles while junior Brady Dollard remains at third singles. Dollard compiled a 103 record last year.
For two years, Lauren Brinkerhoff and Casey Berson were dominant at second doubles for the Panthers, losing just one match.
Theyve 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.