BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer FARRAH MAFFAI staff Middletown’s Eileen Murphy stretches while talking to Marti Rettino prior to competing in the FARC’s Friday 5K in Marlboro. You might say that Ashley Higginson’s cross country career got off to an impressive debut. The Colts Neck High School sophomore will be running cross country for the first time this fall and she wanted to use the Freehold Area Running Club’s Friday 5K for Women that started and finished at the Marlboro Recreation Center, Wyncrest Road, as a test. She passed with an A, beating a field of top women runners Friday night in Marlboro in 19:34. Higginson won a race-long duel with road-racing veteran Christy DeFilippis of Tinton Falls, with an uphill surge with a half-mile to go. “It was fun to race Christy,” said Higginson. “I was hoping to have someone to push me. I’m terrible setting the pace. I knew I needed to follow her and the steady pace she was setting. “I felt pretty comfortable during the race,” she added. “When we came to the uphill, I passed her there. I wanted to use the hill to my advantage. Once I got the lead, I didn’t look back.” Higginson’s surge quickly opened up some daylight between herself and DeFilippis, who had broke the field halfway through the 3.1-mile race. The Tinton Falls runner, though, was able to limit the damage and she stayed in contact, forcing Higginson to push hard to the finish line. In one of the closest finishes ever in the 15-year history of the event, Higginson was just eight seconds up on DeFilippis (19:42). Third place finisher Erica Weitz, who runs for Marlboro High School, was third at 20:05. Rounding out the Top 10 were: Catherine Lynch, Shrewsbury (20:18); Barbara Feinstein, Marlboro (21:08); Danielle Plenzo, Colts Neck (21:17); Joan D’Alonzo, Newark, Del. (21:24); Laura Saffer, Manalapan (21:44); Chrissy Judge, Marlboro (22:01); and Liz Spector, Manalapan (22:01). Brick’s Fran Emanuel won the racewalking division (34:57), with Joan Benslavsky of Robbinsville first in the Master division (35:01). Higginson looked at herself as a miler until this spring when she moved up to the 3,200 on the track and won the Monmouth County and Shore Conference championships, and was sixth at the state Meet of Champions. She also cranked out a 10:53, the second-fastest time ever run by an area high school runner. That was enough to convince her that the longer distances are her future. “I felt good today, but I have a lot of work to go,” she remarked. The significance of the women-only race is not lost on the teen, who was second here last year. “I love this race; there’s great meaning to it,” Higginson pointed out. The age group winners were: 19-and-under, Plenzo; 20-29, Spector; 30-34, Lynch; 35-39, Feinstein; 40-44, D’Alonzo; 45-49, Marti Rettino, Matawan (23:22); 50-59, Pam Allen, Oceanport (23:33); and Marilyn Ryder, Long Branch (27:48). Allyson Rosen and Rosmarie Rosen won the Mother-Daughter competition with a combined time of 50:08. The top sister team was Pat Hancock (24:59) and Michele Kirsch (26:47), both of Toms River (51:46). Summer Race Series On Wednesday, the FARC Summer 5K Race Series began its 22nd season at Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Manalapan. Kris Carle was the overall winner of the summer’s first race, clocking an 18:02. Jason Weiner was second (19:37), and Bob Derringer, third (19:44). First across the line for the women was Rachel Provost (20:07). Megan Patterson (22:14) and Jane Helstrom (22:32) were second and third. Ben Ottmer (33:49) and Elliott Denman (37:27) were one-two in the racewalking division. Male age group winners were: 13 and under, Cody O’Flaherty (23:25); 14-19, Jack Tarpey (20:19); 20-29, Tony Brieva (21:30); 30-39, Bill Aromando (20:49); 40-49, Lee Myers (20:52); 50-59, Walter McGowan (22:21);60 and over, Jim Robbins (30:56). Female age group winners were: 15 and under, Janel Parker (25:07); 16-19, Laura Saffer (22:31); 20-29, Liz Spector (22:41); 30-39, Kristin Sici (23:43); 40-49, Susan Patla (24:30); and 50-59, Maureen David (29:58). The series continues tonight with the Kids Races starting at 6:15 p.m. and the 5K at 6:45 p.m. For more information on the FARC and its upcoming races schedule, call the club at (732) 431-2627 or visit farcnj.com.
LAKEWOOD — As summer is heating up, so are the Jersey Shore Tides. The Tides, one of several local representatives in the ABC Collegiate League, a wood bat league, won three of its four games last week, raising its league-leading record to 12-4. They had an 11-game winning streak ended in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Lakewood Prep by a score of 4-3, but remain in first place in the ABCCL. Last Tuesday, the Tides beat the Ocean Giants, 7-1. Dallas Sims (Lincoln Trail College, Illinois) and Brielle’s Dave Imperato (Virginia Weslyan) combined to hold the Giants to one run on four hits. The Tides offense was provided by Dumont’s Angel Aponte (Manhattan College), Holmdel’s Mike Pahira (Pace University, New York), and Dumont’s Sean Abate (University of Pennsylvania), each getting two hits, including a double. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Marlboro’s Chris Contrino (above left) lashes a base hit during the Jersey Shore Tides’ win at Lakewood Prep on Sunday. Along with some solid offense, the Tides got some solid pitching from Holmdel’s NickAmabile (above) and Brielle’s David Imperato (below left). On Thursday, the Tides beat the Protocol Starz, 5-2. Pitching for the Tides was Abate, Brick’s Steve Holt (Rutgers), Green Brook’s Brian Searls (Manhattan), and Justin Green (Olney Central, Illinois). Will Benoit (University of Dayton) knocked in two runs with a base hit. Marlboro’s Craig Rodwogin (Columbia University, New York), Holmdel’s Chris Kapsales (Brookdale Community College), Pahira, and Nick Pulos (University of Pennsylvania) each had two hits for the Tides. On Sunday, the Tides played a doubleheader against the Lakewood Prep Cougars, winning the first contest, 5-0, but losing the second game 4-3. The Tides ran an 11-game winning streak before the tough-luck loss ended it. In the first game, the Tides’ pitchers limited the Cougars to only three hits and held them scoreless throughout the contest. Holt and Erik Johanson (Tufts Univer-sity, Massachusetts) pitched three scoreless innings each. Holmdel’s Nick Amabile (The College of New Jersey), Imperato, and Sims each pitched a scoreless inning to finish the game. Marlboro’s Chris Contrino (Brown University, Rhode Island) led the offense with two hits and two RBIs. Benoit, Pulos, and Pahira also had RBIs, and Kapsales added two hits and a run scored. In the second game, the Tides offense could not generate enough clutch hits to overcome a 4-0 lead by the Cougars. The Tides came back with three runs, led by Pahira, who had a single, a double, two RBIs, and a run scored. Marlboro’s Jason Gumnitz (The College of New Jersey) added a double and a run scored. Justin Green threw 4 2/3 innings of hitless ball for the Tides to keep the game close. The Tides play their home games at Holmdel High School. Check www.abccl.com for the updated schedule. League games are played every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, mostly throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties. This week, the Tides were scheduled to take on the Protocall Starz on Tuesday at Hartford Crossing, and will be back in action tomorrow at Holmdel when they will host the Manchester Yankees, a team that features a number of local products, including Red Bank Regional graduate Mike Young (now at Seton Hall), Lakewood’s Joe Schietino (Brookdale), Middletown North grad Rob Ogorzat (Monmouth University), Manalapan’s Justin Cocliff (Rider University), Ocean’s Larry Samples (Middlesex County College), Oceanport’s Mike Spahr (Quinnipiac University, Connecticut), and Brick’s Mike Downs and Efrain Velazquez (both at Caldwell College). Then on Saturday, the Tides will travel to HealthQuest Park in Hunterdon County to take on the Middletown Monarchs, who feature Middletown natives Eric D’Alessandro (Rider), Justin Distler (Drew University) and Matt Inzerillo (Montclair State University).
Short, Antista to represent Matawan at state event The Matawan High School wrestling team will be sending two competitors to the state championships in Atlantic City this weekend following an outstanding campaign that saw the Huskies go 18-7. Johnny Short and Cesare Antista will represent Matawan at the state event. On Saturday, Short became the Huskies’ first Region VI champion since Justin Hawkins in 1997. The 130-pound junior was seeded fourth, and he proceeded to pin top-seeded B.J. Young of Jackson Memorial before edging Scott Festejo of Long Branch, 6-3, in the final. Short’s record now stands at a glittering 32-3, and his triumph against Young was satisfying, since Young defeated Short in the District 21 semifinal match. Antista, meanwhile, took third place at 135 pounds to earn a trip to Atlantic City. The senior has 30 wins on the year and is Matawan’s career victory leader with 120 successes. Hawkins still holds the second spot with 97 wins, but Short is just two shy of that mark. “I’m very proud of our entire team,” said coach Andy Lasko, who picked up his 100th win as the Huskies’ mentor when his team defeated Freehold Township. “They’ve worked very hard to turn this program around, and they’re starting to see results.” A year ago, the youthful Matawan contingent battled its way to a 15-14 mark and it became clear that the program was headed in the right direction. This time around, the Huskies finished third in District 21, were competitive in the Shore Conference’s tough Class A Central division, and took second place at both the Icebreaker and Brearley invitational tournaments. Along the way, Lasko’s team recorded wins over St. John Vianney and Marlboro. And the future continues to look bright, since the Huskies will lose just four seniors to graduation: Antista, Chris Howley, Rob Rivera and Billy Gregory. Howley is quite a story. After missing all of last season with a knee injury, he bounced back to go 24-8 as the team’s heavyweight. Rivera finished third in District 21 and posted a 22-12 mark at 189 pounds. He concludes his high school career with 54 wins. The versatile Gregory moved throughout the lineup filling in for injured competitors and compiled a respectable 8-8 mark. In addition to Short, key returnees include Jordan Long. The 145-pound junior took third in the district and finished up with a fine 30-4 record. Fellow juniors Chris Carrillo and Charlie Cook will also be back to give Matawan a solid presence in the upper weights. Carrillo is coming off an 18-7 showing despite an injured shoulder, at 160 pounds, while Cook was 17-10 at 171 pounds. Five sophomores posted 14 or more wins for the Huskies, led by Andre Hodge, who recovered from a 3-6 freshman season to go 19-10 at 215 pounds. Patrick O’Donnell was 18-14 at 112 pounds; Tom Dillon and Zeke Vega have 16 victories apiece at 119 pounds and 125 pounds, respectively; and McArthur Underwood III went 14-7 at 140 pounds. Freshman Tim Birch showed plenty of promise at 103 pounds, where he was 6-21, including a preliminary-round win in District 21 competition. Lasko, who improved his career mark to 111-105, credited his assistants, Jess Monzo and Joe DiMario, for helping the Huskies improve. Monzo is a former Brearley assistant, and DiMario won a state title during his wrestling days at Matawan. “We’ve had a lot of things go our way, from having dedicated kids to having excellent coaches and great administration and parental support,” Lasko said. “We can’t rest on what we’ve done, and our guys know that. They have to continue putting in the time and work to keep getting better.” BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer
Because of last week’s snowstorm, the Freehold Area Running Club’s Winter Series will begin on Jan. 12 at Michael Tighe Park, George Road, Freehold Township.This is the 31st year for the series, which is a 5K race held on four consecutive Sundays through Feb. 2 at Tighe Park. The 5K starts at 10 a.m. and is preceded by the Kids half-mile and mile races.For more information, visit online at www.farcnj.com.The Central Jersey Hawks will be hosting AAU girls fifth- and sixth-grade tryouts for any girl interested in joining the team for the 2014 spring basketball season.The tryouts will be held on Jan. 12 and 19 in the main gym at Holmdel High School, Crawfords Corner Road.Tryout times for both dates are fifthgrade girls at 1:30-3 p.m., and sixth-grade girls at 12-1:30 p.m.Players should arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled tryout for a parents’ meeting.Fifth-grade girls interested in trying out must email coach Scott Cannon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate which tryout date one will be attending.Sixth-grade girls interested in trying out must email coach Tom Fontana at email@example.com. Please indicate which tryout date one will be attending.Deadline to RSVP is Jan. 10.
LUIS Suarez struck twice including a dramatic late winner to earn Uruguay a 2-1 victory over England in a pulsating World Cup Group D match on Thursday night.Restored to the lineup after injury, Suarez nodded home Edinson Cavani’s cross in the 39th minute and after Wayne Rooney equalised in the second half the Uruguayan took advantage of slack defending to slam home the winner five minutes from time.The result left England, who lost 2-1 to Italy in their opener, bottom of the group and with little hope of reaching the last 16. Italy play Costa Rica in the other group match on Friday.After a tense start at the Corinthians arena the game burst to life when Rooney, restored to his more favoured central role, whipped a wicked free kick just wide of Fernando Muslera’s post with ten minutes gone.Rooney went even closer after half an hour when he met Steven Gerrard’s inswinger but his close-range header smacked back off the woodwork while he landed in the net.With England fans jeering Suarez’s every touch, the stage was set for him to turn the game on its head.A lucky break in midfield sent the ball out wide to Cavani and Suarez escaped the attentions of Phil Jagielka to nod back across England goalkeeper Joe Hart for a 1-0 lead.Suarez, who had been well policed by England’s centre backs until that point, wheeled away with a huge smile on his face, kissing his wrists and gesturing frantically in delight.After the break, Uruguay had England on the ropes and Cavani should have done better when put clean through on Hart by Suarez, but the rampaging forward screwed his shot wide.England gradually regained the initiative with Rooney, widely criticised for his performance against Italy, at the heart of all their best work.The number 10, who had never scored in the World Cup, picked up the scraps from a Leighton Baines delivery and brought a terrific save out of Muslera in the 55th minute.Just as it looked like England would never find the net Rooney breathed new life into them.Full back Glen Johnson worked his way into the box after delightful work by Sturridge, and his square ball was rammed home by Rooney at the far post, sending the massed ranks of England fans behind the goal into a frenzy.England were in the ascendancy but when Gerrard failed to deal with Muslera’s punt Suarez was away, outpacing Gary Cahill and slamming the ball past Hart.England pushed for an equaliser but Uruguay held firm, picking up three points that could go a long way to putting them in the knockout stages.
By Andreas VouCHARALAMBOS Vassiliou has been one of the top youth tennis coaches in Cyprus for a number of years, teaching up and coming talents the ins and outs of the game at the Herodotou Tennis Academy in Larnaca.Andreas Vou caught up with him for his views on various key issues regarding the sport on the island.How would you rate the standard of tennis on the island in comparison to other smaller nations? “Cyprus has really raised its game in terms of coaching, and also the amount of new players entering the game. I would say from smaller nations we can boast a real talent pool, and getting silver in the small nations competition in tennis proves that we have come a long way.”What are your thoughts on the development of the sport in Cyprus? “Our facilities have improved with the construction of private tennis academies, the national centre, and especially the coaching. A coaching structure has now been put in place, as a few coaches in Cyprus will now become tutors to monitor the structure carefully, and really help coaches bring through new crops of players continuously. I would say tennis is developing year after year in Cyprus.”What do you think about the support tennis receives from the national sporting body (KOA) and the Tennis Association? “The support isn’t great, that’s true throughout all sports in Cyprus apart from football. A serious financial structure is required to help the best players in Cyprus to make an impact on the junior and professional tours. So far most of the costs are covered by parents and players, and if this doesn’t somehow shift, so that governing bodies are helping out a little more proactively then a lot of talent will be lost unfortunately.”What more could be done to help improve the standard of tennis on the island? “We definitely need more tournaments on the pro level. If we look at nations such as Egypt, Turkey, Israel which are nations close by, they have at least 100 futures tournaments between them. This makes it easier for homegrown talent to progress.”We’ve seen the emergence of Petros Chrysochos in the last couple of years. How far do you think he can go in his career? Can he reach the heights that Marcos Baghdatis did?“Petros Chrysochos is an exceptional talent and I would love to see him break into the top 100 in the world – I truly believe he has that capability. I don’t think we should compare Petros to what Marcos (Baghdatis) did. I feel that’s unfair pressure on a young athlete, in one of the toughest sports in the world. There is no guarantee that a player Top in juniors will be top at the Pro level. But all signs show that Petros has what it takes. If he continues to work hard, has a support team that he has, the sky is the limit.”
By Karolos GrohmannAndy Murray claimed the first clay-court title of his career on Monday with a 7-6(4) 5-7 7-6(4) win over twice champion Philipp Kohlschreiber in the rain-delayed Munich Open final.The 27-year-old Briton kept his cool in the final that was suspended after only 23 minutes on Sunday, winning the title in his maiden clay-court final appearance as he prepares for the French Open starting later this month.The players resumed with local favourite Kohlschreiber leading 3-2 in the first set and they both confidently held serve to go into the tie-break.Fired on by new coach Jonas Bjorkman in the stands, world number three Murray got the mini-break he needed and snatched the set after almost an hour.Murray, leading 4-3 in the second set, had a golden opportunity to break Kohlschreiber with three break points but the German held his nerve and his serve to clinch the set to level the contest.The pair traded blows in the third with both holding on to force another tie-break.Murray clinched victory on his second match point when Kohlschreiber, winner in Munich in 2007 and 2012, sent a backhand long.
By Tom HaywardLiverpool’s 100 per cent start to the season ended with a hard-fought goalless draw against top-four rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.Arsenal were indebted to goalkeeper Petr Cech – at fault for West Ham United’s goals in a 2-0 opening-weekend defeat – in the first half after he produced a string of stunning saves to keep an impressive Liverpool at bay.Arsenal improved and enjoyed the better of proceedings in the second half but were unable to breech a stingy Liverpool defence which has yet to concede in three matches this season.Liverpool sit third with seven points – two behind early pace-setters Manchester City – while Arsenal, touted as serious title contenders before the season, have had an indifferent start and sit ninth with four points.
By Larry FineRoger Federer glided into the second round on a hot, steamy day at Flushing Meadows, while Andy Murray ushered talented young Australian Nick Kyrgios out of another grand slam event at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.Murray had beaten 37th-ranked Kyrgios in straight sets in their three previous meetings, eliminating him this year from two other grand slams, in the Australian quarter-finals and third round of the French Open.The third-seeded Scotsman sent Kyrgios packing in the first round after playing straight man to the flippant Australian, who unnecessarily tried ‘tweener’ shots through his legs and jumped extravagantly on routine forehands that he buried into the net.“I expected a very tough match, and that’s what I got,” Murray, 28, said.But Murray had the last laugh against the clownish Kyrgios as he blasted 18 aces and 46 winners while only committing 23 unforced errors under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.Earlier, second seed Federer was the envy of a clutch of men’s players made to work overtime in the 90-degree heat by quickly dismissing his opening opponent.Federer, who has been in sizzling form since reaching the Wimbledon finals, dashed past 34th-ranked Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-1 6-2 6-2 to launch his campaign for a sixth U.S. Open crown and first slam title since the 2012 Wimbledon.“I feel good now,” said Federer. “I actually wasn’t so confident yesterday and today. I just felt like maybe (this)could be one of those matches I just couldn’t see coming.“Thankfully I took this match extremely serious,” said the 34-year-old Swiss, who had fought off five match points in beating Mayer last year in Shanghai.Murray next meets French left-hander Adrian Mannarino, while Federer faces Belgian Steve Darcis, who advanced 6-7(2) 6-3 6-2 3-1 when Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus retired.RETIREMENTS CONTINUEBaghdatis became the fifth player to retire on Tuesday after seven quit their matches on Monday as the toll of late season injuries and the searing heat presented severe challenges at the U.S. National Tennis Center.Among other shortened matches, Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open winner, advanced 6-0 7-6(2) 1-0 when Aleksandr Nedovyseov of Kazakhstan retired.Misfortune favoured the French and went the other way for the Aussies when 12th seed Richard Gasquet advanced 4-6 6-1 4-6 6-3 2-0 when Thanasi Kokkinakis retired.Other players were sorely tested on the court.Three players in the bottom half of the men’s draw had to go the distance under the sun, including French 11th seed Gilles Simon, who looked to have iced victory after taking a 6-2 6-4 3-0 lead over American Donald Young.But the Frenchman stumbled, and the 26-year-old American, once hailed as the next great U.S. player, saw an opportunity and turned the match upside down for a 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4 win.“I really had it on my racquet,” said Simon. “I was not able to do anything on the tennis court. I think Donald realised it and then played what he had to play to take me down in five sets. It’s a terrible result for me today.”In another wrenching defeat for France, Paul-Henri Mathieu fell to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in five sets.The 128th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka, who saw fourth-seeded compatriot and 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori drummed out in five sets on Monday, booked himself into the second round with a 6-4 2-6 6-7(7) 6-1 6-2 victory.Dutchman Robin Haase also made a Houdini-like escape against Germany’s Dustin Brown to register a 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 victory.On the women’s side, second seed Simona Halep of Romania also had an abbreviated match as she advanced 6-2 3-0 after 47 minutes on court as New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic retired with a knee injury.Also sprinting to victory was fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki, who dismissed U.S. national college champion Jamie Loeb 6-2 6-0, and fifth-seeded, two-times Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova beat Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1.The women’s draw continued to produce upsets as Czech sixth seed and French Open finalist Lucie Safarova fell 6-4 6-1 to Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.Fourteenth seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland was also shown the door, sent out by 42nd-ranked Czech Barbora Strycova 7-5 6-0.“I wasn’t surprised (by the upsets), it is normal,” said 23-year-old Halep. “Everyone is fighting like crazy because it’s the last grand slam (of the year).”