Rob Kiley seems to have the magic touch with the Oceanside boys’ tennis team.
The second-year coach is poised for yet another undefeated regular season after guiding the Sailors to a 13-0 start this spring – including a 6-1 win over Plainedge May 11 – and a successful defense of their Conference 3B title. Oceanside finished the regular season on Monday against New Hyde Park, which it beat 7-0 on April 26.
The Sailors went 14-0 in Kiley’s first season and captured the program’s first division championship since 1992 after beating Carey/Sewanhaka in a regular-season finale that was split into two days because of rain. The only loss during his reign was against Port Washington in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
This year’s accomplishment is even more impressive considering the team lost two singles and six doubles starters to graduation last spring and features several walk-ons.
“We’ve had depth in our lineup the last two years,” Kiley said. “Every day in practice they’re competing and pushing each other to the next level. I think that’s definitely helpful.”
Oceanside almost saw its run end multiple times in late April in early May, but escaped with consecutive 4-3 victories over Valley Stream South, Long Beach and second-place Carey/Sewanhaka. The doubles teams, who are a combined 60-2 this season, were responsible for all four wins against South and three against Long Beach before three of the pairs rallied to defeat their Carey/Sewanhaka counterparts after dropping the first set.
“We looked like we were down and out and thought that was going to be our first loss and probably split the title with Carey,” Kiley said. “And three of our four doubles came back and won in the third set.”
The first doubles team was initially senior Jack Swansig and junior Brendan Reiser before the latter suffered a season-ending injury against New Hyde Park. Senior Stephen Walsh has filled in admirably as his replacement and the new pair has yet to lose.
The second team of senior captains Frank Demmerle and Michael Caine have yet to be defeated in two seasons together, which began as exhibition participants in 2022.
“They pick each other up, they encourage each other [and] their games complement each other,” Kiley said.
The third pair of sophomores Parker Roth and Owen Dryden have lost just once this spring, while the fourth duo of walk-on seniors John Catalanotto and Ethan Silverstein “won their way into the lineup” early in the campaign, according to Kiley.
Sophomore Harris Brodsky moved to first singles this year and his new height – Kiley said he grew over six inches in the last year – has helped him improve his serving and volleying. He did not yield a point against New Hyde Park and has had five straight-set victories this year.
Senior walk-on Nick Alvarez’s track background has made him one of the top conditioned athletes on the team and junior Gavin Elmore has shined in his first year in varsity singles, including four consecutive straight-set wins in late April.