Three-time defending champ Jericho the team to beat
Jericho entered the fall as the three-time defending champion of the five-year-old league and is, not surprisingly, the favorite again. All three singles players, Matt George (2012 All-LI), Pritak Patel and Ian Hua, return for coach Mark Burkowsky.
According to Burkowsky, the recent success is due, in large part, to the team's "family atmosphere." Practice is filled with moments of levity, encouragement and teaching from all involved, not just the coach.
This year, that "family atmosphere" will be true in the literal sense as well. Zach George, younger brother of Matt, will be joining the team. Matt Su also figures to be a top newcomer.
This season will be Long Beach's fourth in the league. The current senior crop saw the program grow from an expansion team to a well-established contender in only three years. They fell just short of the title last season and should be strong again in 2012.
Russell Goetz (2012 All-LI second team) and Justin Charschan anchor a strong group of Long Beach singles players. David Fuchs, an All-County doubles player, also returns. His partner, David Velez (2012 All-LI), is expected to move up to the singles line.
Great Neck South finished third in the county last season and returns both Alvin Fu and Mitchell Lo. Despite the loss of All-County first singles player Winston Lee, Great Neck South's depth should put them in position to challenge for the top spot.
Mepham, the league's inaugural county champion in 2008, believes that it is primed to add a second title to its trophy case. Coming off a rebuilding year, coach Rich Anderson's group boasts a strong stable of seniors and some outstanding underclassman. Jimmy Cavuto will lead Mepham at first singles. Greg Palma and Connor Walsh are strong doubles players who may see some singles action as well.
Bellmore JFK returns Jesse Richheimer. Great Neck North and Calhoun should also be factors in the final standings.
Hempstead returns Dennis Bardales and Jammar Lamparg. It hopes to turn some of the tough defeats of 2011 into quality victories in 2012.