Frankel Tennis
Ethan Grey served up 11 wins at No. 4 singles this season for the Frankel Jewish Academy boys tennis team. (Monica Stark)

It was a strange season for the Frankel Jewish Academy boys tennis team because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But at least there was a season.

Coaches wore masks all the time. Players wore them when they weren’t playing.

Each player served using his own tennis balls and the home team kept both scores during a match, competing players sat on opposite sides of the court, and doubles partners needed to stay at least 6 feet apart during a break in a match.

It was a strange season for the Frankel Jewish Academy boys tennis team because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But at least there was a season.

“Our guys didn’t love those rules, but they got used to them quickly because they wanted to play,” said FJA coach Larry Stark.

Even FJA’s record was influenced by the pandemic.

Officially, the Jaguars finished 6-6-1.

FJA normally plays teams from larger schools to gain experience, and Stark considers them exhibition matches. Those matches had to count this year because exhibition matches weren’t allowed by the MHSAA.

“We lost this season to Berkley, West Bloomfield, Walled Lake Northern and Farmington,” Stark said. “But I don’t consider them losses. I want our kids to face talented players. When our guys say they want to face a guy they lost to again, that’s what I want to hear.”

The boys tennis state tournament format was changed by the MHSAA this season to reduce the number of people at matches. There was head-to-head competition for teams.

FJA landed in the Division 4 district in Grosse Pointe. After beating Sandusky 5-3 in the semifinals, the Jaguars lost 5-3 to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in the district championship match. A win over Notre Dame would have sent Frankel to the state finals.

“We gave Notre Dame a battle. Our No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams each lost in a third-set tie-breaker,” Stark said. “Our lineup had two freshmen, seven sophomores, two juniors and one senior. Notre Dame had several seniors in their lineup.”

FJA’s lineup this season consisted of singles players Max Charlip (No. 1), Rafi Weinstein (No. 2), Aidan Charlip (No. 3) and Ethan Grey (No. 4).

The Jaguars’ doubles teams were Jacob Goodman and Tony Carson (No. 1), Brandon Gladstone and Mathew Kay (No. 2), Eli Gordon and Harry Shaevsky (No. 3) and Gabe Gordon and Coby Robbins (No. 4).

Grey (11-2) and Gordon/Robbins (9-4) had the best season records. Grey was named the team MVP, Gordon was named most improved, and Kay received the Coach’s Award.

Grey and Max Charlip were named All-Catholic and Weinstein and Aidan Charlip was named All-League.

Stark has been FJA’s boys tennis coach for seven years. His team has gone to the state finals five times.

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