Final Coach’s Corner: All Things Must Pass

Coach at rest.

Girls: Though this announcement comes with mixed emotions, I think it best that you learn this news sooner rather than later. After much consideration, I have informed athletic director Pat Gonzalez that I will not be returning as girls tennis head coach this spring. The team, I am certain, will be in good hands going forward. Our beloved coach Noura Guermazi has assured me that she will apply for the head coaching position (there will be a process), and I will be available to help as needed and to watch as an interested spectator.

All-Scholastics of 2009

I started coaching tennis at South as boys JV coach in 1982-1990, missing just one year, 1985, after my daughter was born. In 1991, I began my 31-year career as the girls head coach (no tennis in Covid 2020). In all, I have been a tennis coach at South for 39 years, along with my 34-year tenure as an English teacher there. Finally, we can declare that I no longer hold a paid position at Newton South! But my heart will always reside at South, and I will continue as the Friends of Newton Tennis liaison and advocate for our beloved courts.

Lots of laughs along the way.

Last year’s team experience was so positive that I hesitated to give up coaching. You girls were a pleasure to be around, and you improved throughout the season. If you keep working hard and enjoying being part of the team, the coming season will be successful whatever the wins and losses. I love tennis, and if all goes well, tennis will become as much a part of your lives as it is of mine. Though I am now 72 years old, I still play tennis three times a week on average all year round. In effect, I am 72 years young thanks in large measure to tennis.

2022: My last team

God bless you all.

Bob Jampol

Coach’s Corner, June 20th: Farewell, Tennis 2022

After  almost three months of practice and competition, our spring tennis season ended on June 8th when we fell in the round of 16 of the MIAA tournament to second-seeded Lexington, 5-0. I was away at the time, having traveled to California for my son’s twice-delayed wedding in Napa, California. In my absence, JV coach Noura Guermazi provided capable leadership in our losing effort. It turned out that ten days later, that same Lexington team upset top-seeded Lincoln Sudbury to win the division one championship. Lexington is the best team in the state, and we feel positive for having battled them in our final match.

Overall, I look back on our season with pride. We were a young team whose varsity starters consisted of no seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, and three freshmen. From the start we faced some of the best teams in the state, including Acton, LS, Latin, Weston, and Concord. Nonetheless, we found a way to carve out a winning record and to be seeded 15th in the state tournament. In our first-round match, vs. 18th seeded Bishop Feehan, we played a comparable team and found a way to win by 3-2. From start to finish this spring, all 21 players on our combined varsity/JV squad practiced hard and improved their skills. We also had lots of fun along the way.

Special thanks to rookie coach Noura, who added the dimension of improved conditioning to our daily routine; to our junior captains, Abi and Melinda, who demonstrated great leadership on and off the court; to our wonderful team manager, Sri Paladugu, who kept us organized and prepared; and to all the girls who stayed with the program and dedicated themselves to the team. Farewell, girls, and be ready to play when next we meet in March 20, 2023.


Coach’s Corner, June 7th: Approaching the End

South Girls Tennis 2022

Girls’ tennis faced uncertain prospects this 2022 season. We had lost two starters to graduation. The Dual County League has the strongest tennis programs in the Commonwealth, and the going would be tough.

Predictably, at the start we faced powerful teams from Lincoln-Sudbury, Acton, Concord, and Boston Latin. Though we could not match their firepower, our girls competed hard and learned a lot from the experience. The varsity and JV teams practiced enthusiastically, and soon we found our stride. At season’s end we swept both opponents in the DCL tournament and entered the MIAA tournament ranked 15th in Division One.

On Monday, June 6th we hosted Bishop Feehan in the first round and earned a well-deserved 3-2 victory. Junior captains Abi Handel and Melinda Yung took the lead at first doubles and, along with second doubles tandem Mana Hayashida and Julia Lee, won in straight sets. We needed one more win to secure the victory, and once again third singles player Olivia French came through, also in straight sets.

On Wednesday, June 8th we travel to face Lexington, the second seed in the tournament. Whatever the challenge, the girls will give their best effort. Win or lose, the season is drawing to a conclusion. Overall,  it has been a success, and coach Guermazi and I have enjoyed working with the team this spring.



Coach’s Corner, May 24th: Life is a Marathon

You often hear coaches and commentators likening a sports season to a marathon: 1) Don’t judge yourself or your team in the early stages of the season; 2) Don’t expend all your energies too quickly- pace yourself for the long run; 3) Be open to adjustments at any point along the way; 4) Don’t lose heart too soon since “the match ain’t over til it’s over,” as Yogi quipped.

Our 2022 girls tennis season illustrates these principles. We began the season in a deep hole, having to play teams with greater weaponry. We realized, however, that facing strong competition can help a team like ours. We toughened up, and when we hit a stretch of matches more to our liking, we prevailed. At the moment our record stands at 6-6, and we may well end the season with a winning record and a seeding in the top 15 of the Division 1 tournament . If so, we would avoid a preliminary match and gain a first-round home match against a team on our level. Victory there would lock us into facing a top-four team filled with USTA players. Our goal, though, is to fight to reach that formidable match and then try our best, come what may.

Not only a season but a match can resemble a marathon. Yesterday we battled with Westford for three hours before a final kick put us over the finish line. Westford, led by former Globe All-Scholastic coach Tracy Capone, is disciplined and well-coached. Though we had defeated them earlier, Westford that day was missing two singles players. This time, facing their full line-up, we fell a set behind in both first and second singles and also in first doubles. Our team was still missing captain Abi Handel, one of our best doubles players. Soon Westford grabbed second singles. But the match was not over.

The turnaround began when first singles player Julia Arboleda rallied and drew Westford’s top player into a prolonged battle. That seemed to energize the rest of the line-up. In short order, our second doubles responded with a straight set victory. What a season for rookies Mana Hayashida and Julia Lee! Their infectious enthusiasm has translated into excellent chemistry and competitiveness. Next, Melinda Yung and her current partner, Zoe Hong, moved from third singles, turned the tide by grabbing their second set by 6-2.

At third singles Olivia French, filling in admirably for Zoe, lost a grueling second set after winning the first. But the struggle seemed to take the legs if not the spirit from her opponent. Fortunately  for us, we have worked very hard on conditioning this spring, and while their girls started cramping, ours kept hustling and adjusting.

At first singles, Julia finally fell in two hard-fought sets. When the clock reached 7:15, Melinda and Zoe put the finishing touches on their comeback victory to even the match at 2-2. Now all eyes were on Olivia as she moved her opponent all over the court and slowly, patiently approached victory. At 7:30 she finally converted her second match point. We had reached the end of a marathon match, the final score Newton South 3 Westford 2.

Noah rounding the bend

Speaking of marathons, my son Noah just ran one on Martha’s Vineyard. He had qualified for Boston but had to withdraw when he got Covid a week before. Once he had recovered, he decided to deal with his disappointment by running on the island instead, a place he knows well from childhood summers. My wife and I went in support, and though Noah cramped at mile 20, his superior conditioning allowed him to recover and finish in 15th with a 3:10 time.

Natalie Juliana and mom

Finally, today at 10:30 AM my daughter Malka finished her own nine-month marathon by giving birth to her second child, Natalie Juliana. Though the birth was swift and uneventful, the pregnancy was a slow jog for her. But as Ecclesiastes declared, “The race is not to the swift.” After all the ups and downs, Malka and child are resting comfortably at Beth Israel Hospital.

Remaining Match Schedule

May 25: home vs. Wayland

May 31: Garden City Cup at South with Newton North boys and girls teams.

Post-season: Schedule TBA

Coach Jampol


Coach’s Corner, April 22nd: Updated Schedule With Bus Times

Newton South Girls Tennis 2022 Tentative Remaining Schedule:

April 27: home vs. Latin

April 28: home vs. LS

May 4: at Waltham (release from class at 3:15 for a 3:30 bus)

May 5: At Concord- bus leaves at 3 PM

May 10: at Westford (bus at 2:45)

May 11: home vs. Wayland

May 12: at Acton (bus at 3 PM)

May 18: home vs. Weston

May 20: home vs.Bedford

May 23-27: Last week of regular season:

Two-match DCL tournament based on season’s results/JVs will play as well

Post-season: Who knows?

Garden City Cup vs. North: Who knows?

Coach Jampol

Coach’s Corner, April 18th: Spring Break

Happy holidays to all! Today, Patriots’ Day, witnessed not only the traditional reenactments of the battles of Lexington and Concord but also the return of the Boston Marathon to its traditional seasonal setting. My wife and I watched as the leaders passed by at Commonwealth Avenue and Evelyn Road. Then we sped home on our bikes to watch the finish on television. Our son was to run the race this year for the first time but was sidelined by Covid. Fortunately, his symptoms were mild. He will undoubtedly get another chance to fulfill his dream of participating in the world’s most prestigious marathon, one that he grew up watching with us in the same place.

We have now completed a month of this spring’s girls’ tennis season. We played two matches, losing the first to Arlington by 4-1 but sweeping Rindge by 5-0. More importantly, all the girls, from the varsity through the JV, have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play tennis every day after school. We have worked harder on conditioning this year, and these efforts should improve our chances in the matches that lie ahead. A few injuries have taken their toll, but teammates have stepped into the breach. The beat goes on.

Our team is young, comprised mostly of ninth and tenth graders. Though our experience may be modest, the girls all want to improve. Our drills have emphasized consistency; we must increase our rally tolerance. Girls are also improving their ability to hit overheads and volleys.

Coach Guermazi and I, rest assured, are enjoying it all. This year we are building for the future, preparing our girls for matches not just in coming weeks but in coming years. However we fare this spring, the future looks bright.

We will practice over spring break on Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30. It remains to be seen if we also meet on Sunday at 3. Enjoy your spring break but keep playing tennis!


Coach’s Corner, April 3rd: Friends of Newton Tennis (FoNT)

This last week, in the midst of a practice, our girls’ team received a visit from Tom Friedman, Newton Highlands resident and current president of the Friends of Newton Tennis (FoNT). He wanted to check out the team and to see about the general condition of the courts. In particular, he wondered if it was now time to put up our wind screens (going up in a few weeks).

FoNT is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation whose goal is to improve conditions in the Garden City for playing racquet sports in general and tennis in particular. Last fall FoNT held a fundraising doubles tournament on South’s courts that raised over $15,000 to donate to Parks and Rec’s budget for court maintenance. Needless to say, the mayor and city government were thrilled, and at a brief courtside ceremony the mayor pledged to work hard on behalf of Newton’s many tennis and pickleball enthusiasts.

I am particularly proud of FoNT, in part because I cofounded the group fifteen years ago and still serve on its board. For the first stretch of its existence, FoNT was more a concept than an ongoing organization. When the need arose, we came together to advocate for the repair of courts in particularly tough shape. In 2008 then mayor David Cohen agreed to match any funds that we raised to invest in the repair of Newton South’s courts. We managed to collect about $40,000, which mayor Cohen more than matched to finance a short-term repair there. At that time  a complete resurfacing- costing perhaps $700,000- would not have gained the city’s approval.

By 2014 the situation at South had again turned dire, so we mounted a vigorous campaign to convince the city that this time a complete overhaul was due. To further our efforts, FoNT decided to incorporate as a 501c3. Eventually, the job got done, and though some cracks have appeared, the courts overall are in good shape.

These days, under Tom’s leadership, FoNT has an excellent relationship with Parks and Rec, and our lines of communication are always open. Current Commissioner Nicole Banks and her lieutenants Stephanie Lapham and Derek Manion  deserve a shout-out for all they have done for our tennis community. FoNT itself has plans for more tournaments and a greater role in promoting the sport that we love.

As Newton South tennis prepares for competition this season, our teams should pause to thank Parks and Rec, FoNT, and Newton’s taxpayers for the wonderful courts on which we practice and host matches. FoNT also seeks improvements in the courts at North and Newton Centre and around town. We are also excited about working with the new director of Newton public tennis, former tennis pro Tim Mayotte, as he develops his classes and clinics.

If you are interested in learning more about FoNT and possibly supporting its efforts, visit its website:

Coach’s Corner, March 27th: One Week Completed

Circle of Teammates

Our outdoor tennis season began on a windy but dry Monday, March 21st. Thirty girls turned up to play challenge matches for the right to participate on this year’s combined varsity/junior varsity squad. After two days of competition our numbers dwindled to twenty-one. A heartfelt thanks to all the candidates for the team, and congratulations to those who survived the challenge matches and made the team.

Who will play on varsity and at what spot? Two days of practice and challenge matches after cuts were made hardly sufficed to answer such questions. Julia Arboleda is clearly our best player, but beyond that all is in flux. What lies beyond doubt is that we have two terrific captains, juniors Abi Handel and Melinda Yung, and wherever they end up playing, they will provide firm leadership on and off the courts. In addition, senior Sri Paladugu has volunteered to be our team manager, and she will also provide assistance and leadership as we  become a team.

Lifting Our Spirits

We draw no firm line between varsity and junior varsity; players may pass from one to the other seamlessly. And so many new players, including Mana Hayashida, Ellie Fiadjoe, Julia Lee, and Julia Sayers, have competed in varsity-level matches since making the team. The nascent junior varsity squad contains many other good players, and our new JV coach, Noura Guermazi, is a veteran tennis instructor who is working actively to improve the skills of all the girls. The future looks bright.

Noura also brings to the team a focus on conditioning. She herself works ceaselessly to be fit, and she has led the team in exercises and stretches both before and after practice. Tomorrow, when temperatures will dip to 30 degrees at 4 PM and winds will howl and 20 miles per hour, we will meet inside instead to work out.

Much work remains going forward. Our first match lies less than two weeks away, and the weather this upcoming week will be chilly and sometimes damp. It’s a long season, however, and we should have sufficient time to fulfill two essential tasks: 1) to improve our play through competition and practice,  and 2) to forge a collective identity. One week may be complete, but nine more lie ahead.

Younger Generation

Coach’s Corner, March 8th: Time to Get Excited!

Preseason warm-up

Barring meteorological catastrophe, our spring tennis season will start in less than two weeks. In preparation for that eventuality, I visited the courts yesterday and did some maintenance on the grounds and the six courts with nets. Four of the six nets left up survived the winter in good shape, as did all the center straps. Two of the nets, alas, are full of holes and will be replaced in the near future. On Friday, Parks and Rec will restore nets to the southern bank of courts, and I will adjust the heights and place center straps on the nets.

In the interim before tryouts, prospective candidates for the team should make sure to sign up on Family ID and to get their medical clearance. Without these two prerequisites, a students cannot participate at all. I also suggest that girls find a friend or teammate and play some tennis outside. Believe me, conditions are much tougher than on those indoor courts where lots of players attend clinics and take privates. It is a definite advantage to get used to rallying, serving, and volleying outside in preparation for the challenge ahead.

Time to get excited, girls: spring tennis is coming!

Coach’s Corner, February 1st: The Spring Season Approaches

                               Winter in the Garden City

Looking out the window, anyone might think that the spring high school tennis season must be months away. In fact, it will begin, weather permitting, in seven weeks. Let’s hope that all that snow out there is but a distant memory on March 21st, the day when varsity and junior varsity tryouts begin.

This winter has not made it easy for me to sustain my tennis. When Omicron arrived, I put my club membership on hold and stopped playing indoor tennis and working out there. I would have felt safe enough on the tennis courts, with their high ceiling and draftiness, if the passage to and from them didn’t require me to pass through a crowd of unmasked athletes. For some reason most members ignored the danger of contagious Omicron and acted as if the Pandemic had ended. At the age of 71, I cannot pretend away the risk. Thus, I work out at home, walk a great deal, and bike either in the basement or outside when conditions permit. For me, tennis will have to wait.

Now to urgent matters. Our preseason meeting is scheduled for 2:40 on Tuesday, February 15th in a classroom in the Wellness area. It is informational in nature. During the meeting I will pass out some sheets and review the steps that each student-athlete needs to take to gain clearance to try out come March 21st. I am hopeful that the tennis gods smile on us this spring and allow us to enjoy playing tennis with a minimum of inconvenience. Players and coaches can do their part by getting their booster shots, observing the Covid protocols, and not taking unnecessary risks. We are all in this together: my safety and health depend on your behavior and vice versa.

In the meantime, play whatever tennis is possible, stay fit, and do all that you can to prepare for the approaching season. As for me, I intend to enjoy the winter even as the spring approaches. Perhaps in coming days I might even pass some of you on skis or snow shoes!

Newton South Girls Tennis 2022 Tentative Schedule:

          (scrimmages and other matches are possible)

March 21: Season starts for those registered on Family ID and with medical clearance.

March 21-April 8: Tryouts/Practice/Formation of varsity and JV teams; protocols to follow.

April 5: at Arlington (nonleague)

April 13: first DCL match: home vs. Rindge

April 15-24: Spring break: Optional practices tbd.

April 26: At Concord

April 27: at Latin

April 28: home vs. LS

May 4: at Waltham

May 10: at Westford

May 11: home vs. Wayland

May 12: at Acton

May 18: home vs. Weston

May 20: home vs.Bedford

May 23-27: Two-match DCL tournament based on season’s results

Post-season: Who knows?

Garden City Cup vs. North: Who knows?

Some simple team rules for now:

  • We practice or play a match every day. Once matches start, unscheduled days serve either for practicing or for making up rain-outs.
  • The number of days for tryouts will depend on the number of candidates.
  • Challenge matches will be necessary, at the very least, for varsity spots. JV tryouts, if necessary, will be many mini-matches.
  • Practices start at 4:15 and typically run 90 minutes; matches generally run longer.