Each year, Amity boys tennis coach Chris Raffone holds what he likes to call preseason challenge matches: pitting kids against one another numerous times. Once those matches are completed, Raffone can determine his starting lineup to start the season.
In 2012, Andrew Ginzberg was coming off being the No. 1 singles player for the Spartans each of the previous two years. Raffone pitted him against freshman Jason Seidman.
“They played numerous times and Jason won all of them,” Raffone said.
Seidman took over the No. 1 spot. Two years later, he still holds that position. He lost just once this season and was named the Register’s Area MVP in the sport.
“He’s the hardest-working kid I have ever had,” Raffone said.
Raffone first met Seidman in 2001 when he was an instructor at the Woodbridge Club and Seidman was 4. So he knew about him before he became Amity’s coach in 2007.
Seidman had played against Bradley Orban of Foran often while growing up. But Orban had only lost one match, in the State Open final as a freshman, as he entered his senior year at Foran this spring.
“It used to go back and forth (trading wins) between us when we were younger,” said Seidman, 17. “To be honest, I expected to win that match. I knew that if I wanted to get to the next level, I had to beat Bradley.”
Seidman finished the regular season at 15-0. He won all of his matches during Amity’s trip to the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament final. In defense of his Class LL state title, Seidman advanced to the semifinals.
Then he suffered his first loss to Xavier freshman Rich Ciamarra in three sets. Seidman had beaten Ciamarra during the regular season.
“He came out playing well and I came out playing not to lose,” Seidman recalled. “A lot of people came up to me and asked ‘How could I lose?’ That has motivated me to work harder. It definitely makes you a lot hungrier.”
Said Raffone: “Now he has the motivation to come back in his senior year and try and lead the team to a Class LL state title and a SCC title.”
Seidman rebounded from the loss to make an impressive run in the USTA Junior Sectionals 18-under singles division. He upset Noah Farrell of Wilton, the four-time Class L state champ, en route to the final, falling to Charles Shewalter of Winchester, Massachusetts.
Although he did not play either of them, both Orban and Ciamarra were in the field.
Seidman already has drawn interest from Ivy League schools Yale, Penn, Harvard and Dartmouth, along with Northwestern and Michigan among others, according to Raffone.
“I’m lucky. I get to have him for another year,” Raffone said.