If you do a quick search on the internet on “what makes a good coach”, you’ll find qualities and traits such as being able to inspire and motivate the athletes, having leadership, being supportive and positive, and having the ability to effectively communicate.
When you mix all of those characteristics together, you get Lawrence’s Alex Krajunus, who is the NJ.com boys tennis coach of the year for 2019.
Lawrence, for the first time in program history, won its division, won a sectional title (Central Jersey, Group 2), and the overall Group 2 state championship. The Cardinals also won their first round match against Tenafly in the Tournament of Champions, and it was after the match against the Tigers that Krajunus’ impact on the team really shined through.
When Krajunus calmly talked, his players attentively listened with both ears. He talked about having the whole team — including junior varsity — there at Mercer County Park during the T of C to have them soak in the experience and to cheer on their teammates. Even though they weren’t starting, he raved about their support and the fact that they push each other. He gave massive props and was extremely encouraging to his players no matter if they won or lost and how one in particular fought through some pain to come out on top. He talked about having fire, grit, focus, staying in control, showing what they are made of, and fighting until the end.
Krajunus rubs off on his players, and he’s a huge reason why Lawrence put forth a historic season.
First singles Alejandro Jacome, a sophomore, and second singles Ronaldo Jacome, a junior, spearheaded the top of the lineup as well as sophomore Ram Laxminarayan, who was at third singles. Alejandro, a three-star recruit according to the Tennis Recruiting Network, went 19-2 during team matches on the year while Ronaldo went 16-3. Laxminarayan was steady with a 16-3 record as well. Alejandro Jacome also won third place at the Mercer County Tournament while Ronaldo took second. First doubles Sharath Mahadevan and Paraj Goyal experienced growing pains with tough matches all season long, but still advanced to the third place match at the MCT and they played in the state doubles tournament. Nikhil Kotta and Aaditya Rajagopalan, the two lone seniors, formed the second doubles duo and they came up big in the Group 2 final against Demarest as they pulled out the last point for the Cardinals.
Lawrence finished the season with an 18-3 record with its three losses coming to No. 1 Montgomery, the T of C winners, No. 4 West Windsor-Plainsboro South, which fell to Montgomery in the Central Jersey, Group 4 final, and to Lawrenceville, the Prep A champs.
The Cardinals themselves finished at No. 8 in the NJ.com Final Top 20 and get the bulk of their starters back in 2020. They won’t sneak up on anybody next season like they did in 2019, but Krajunus, who led Lawrence from 2015-17 before returning this year, will have plenty to work with.