For the first time in school history, a Haddonfield High School boys' tennis doubles team captured the NJSIAA state doubles tournament championship Thursday at Mercer County Park.
The duo of Isaak Anderson and Sam Oberholtzer turned aside Justin Patel and Jessie Korovin of Livingston 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
Anderson and Oberholtzer are the first male state doubles champs in Haddonfield’s history. Two female teams — Victoria Martinez / Catherine Senopoulos in 2011, Arpie Senopoulos / Erica Pascocello in 2012 — won the NJSIAA state doubles tournament previously.
Anderson, a senior, finishes his career with 166 victories — the highest number of wins in school history for a male player. Catherine Senopoulos, who just completed her sophomore year playing at LaFayette University, holds the female record with 168.
Sam Oberholtzer, a sophomore, is the first player – male or female – in school history to win 50 or more matches in a single season, finishing the 2014 season with 52 victories.
The Haddonfield boys' tennis team won the Group 2 state championship last month and finished the season by reaching the Tournament of Champions final where it lost to Millburn. It was the Bulldawgs first trip to the TOC final.
Thanks to Friday's 5-0 Colonial Conference victory against Woodbury, Haddonfield boys' tennis coach Jeff Holman collected his 1000th career coaching win as the boys' head tennis coach.
The victory lifted Holman's Bulldawgs to a 4-0 start just a week into the 2014 season
But for Holman, this latest milestone is only another small step in his storied career. And in speaking with him, it's obvious that it's not records he's after, rather the positive impact he has on the kids he works with daily.
The records are impressive for a program or coach in any sport and certainly can't be ignored. In addition to achieving 1,000 career wins with his varsity boys' team, he picked up his 1,000th win as the head coach as the Haddonfield varsity girls' tennis coach in the fall of 2013.
He now has a career record of 1021-124 as the girls' head coach and 1000-176 as the boys' head coach. That's an overall combined record of 2021-300 for a career which began in 1976 with the girls' program and 1978 with the boys' squad.
Holman joins Moorestown's Bill Kingston (1,023-186) as the only two South Jersey coaches to reach 1,000 victories and is the third in both state history and the nation according to the National Federation of High Schools to do so. The other is Elliot Lovi (formerly at Millburn and now at Livingston High Schools) who was the first to do so back in 2012 and is over 1,050 wins.
However, Holman's mark on Bulldawg tennis started several years prior to his coaching reign. A 1970 Haddonfield graduate, he went 25-0 as a senior and 18-1 as a junior for the program.
Over the years, Holman-coached teams have gathered 70 conference titles, 35 each in boys and girls. In girls' play only Gateway Regional in 1985,1995 and 1996 have been able to win the Colonial title in the Holman Era. On the boys' side, the only season Holman's charges didn't with the conference was in 1978 when rival Haddon Heights earned the crown.
"The man doesnt know how to lose" said Chris Sylvester, head coach of Audubon High School's tennis team. Sylvester, a science teacher at Audubon said, "to win an average of 25 boys matches and 25 girls matches a year seems unattainable for any sport."
Sylvester who has immense respect for Holman and played against him during his playing days at Audubon said "what (Holman) has done in tennis in the region is legendary."
Holman shrugs that off with a smile. The quiet unassuming coach says, "Everyone focuses on my wins, but I got a lot of losses along the way too."
The Princeton graduate is more concerned how he helps kids at Haddonfield and tennis players from all over the area. Immediately following his graduation from Princeton, Holman came home to Haddonfield High where he still works as a guidance counselor.
"Haddonfield Memorial High School is privileged to have Coach Holman on our staff," Haddonfield athletic director Lefteris Banos told South Jersey Sports Digest. "He has been such a positive influence to so many students over the years. His teams have won a lot of matches and championships but what testifies to Coach Holman's success are the many successful and contributing members of our society that he had a role in shaping."
"Mr. Holman cannot be measured by his wins, he's such an amazing person," said Haddonfield junior Michael Alberto. "He puts so much time into us as people and students in addition to his time coaching us."
Alberto who hopes to be next year's team captain, said he knows the pressure of keeping the Haddonfield winning tradition going on. But he said it's not pressure from the coach, it is self imposed by the players.
"When we are out there with the H on our shirt we know we are a target. We represent him, ourselves and our school, and we want to win."
Alberto, who also plays football, said he intends to go to college and continue playing tennins at the next level.
Haddonfield is also one of the few teams in South Jersey who makes regular trips to North Jersey for competition. One reason the team can do so consistently is because Holman obtained his commercial license and can drive the bus himself to save money for the school. This only further shows Holman's committment to his players and the school, doing what it takes to impact their lives.
Alberto added, "It is good to go up north and play, the competiton is at a very high level up there."
Coming off Friday's 1,000th career win, the coach took no time to reflect on it. This weekend he's busy running one of the area's biggest high school tennis tournaments, the Camden County Championships which is being held at Eastern High School.
Holman founded the tournament over 15 years ago and sees teams from several area schools compete, such as Eastern, Cherry Hill East, Winslow, Haddon Twp. Lindenwold, Haddon Hts., Sterling, Collingswood, Audubon and his beloved Haddonfield Bulldawgs.
The tournament has singles and doubles play on 10 courts and runs for two days. Each school can enter up to three single players each and there is varsity and junior varsity backets for doubles. Holman also runs the same tournament in the fall for girls' tennis.
After 38 years of coaching Holman says he intends to keep at it as long as he feels good, is having fun and helping the program. At this point he shows no signs of slowing down at all as he runs from court to court keeping the tournament running smoothly.
Maybe the biggest testiment to Holman is that most of the players from surrounding schools who were at the tournament all knew him as soon as they saw him, and spoke to him as a coach, not a competitor.