MEMORY LIVES ON AT NISKAYUNA

Tennis teammates honor No. 1 Donny Dudley, killed in car crash

JESS KOEHLER
Section: Sports,  Page: C1

Date: Monday, April 2, 2012

NISKAYUNA -- Donny Dudley's name will be read as part of Niskayuna's lineup before each tennis match this season.


It's one of the ways the team will remember the 17-year-old who was expected to be the Silver Warriors' No. 1 singles player.


Dudley died seven months ago in a car crash while returning from a tennis tournament in Pennsylvania. He was a passenger in a car that spun off a guardrail and into the path of a tractor-trailer.


As the Silver Warriors prepare for their first match without Dudley on Monday, they're trying to focus on the present while remembering their friend and teammate.


"You're missing your No. 1 person and his leadership," Niskayuna coach Jim Neal said. "They would have followed his lead."


The team purchased T-shirts -- one with "Niskayuna Tennis" on the front and Dudley's name on the back -- and rubber bracelets as another way to honor him.


Dudley, who finished fourth in the 2011 Section II singles tournament, had a work ethic and gentle nature that touched the lives of many in the tennis community.


"He was always trying to help you out and direct you," Niskayuna senior Erwin Lin said. "He was always trying to help you get better."


"Off the court he was very kind and generous," Neal added. "Very polite ... a nice kid."


With the absence of Dudley and last year's Section II singles champion Chris Frost, who graduated, Niskayuna's lineup will look slightly different this season.


Lin will be No. 1, Jon Finn will be No. 2 and Brendan Service will be No. 3 in singles.


Lin and Service were runners-up in the 2011 Section II doubles championship.


"It's gonna be very difficult to find two more people who can consistently win every match," Lin said. "Personally, I feel our doubles are going to have to step it up. Our singles are going to be for the most part, similar to last year."


Niskayuna will look to capture its first sectional team title since 2008 -- a tall task for the Silver Warriors who will run into Bethlehem, Shaker and reigning Class AA champ Guilderland along the way.


"I think in the Suburban Council, it's much harder (to win)," Lin said. "The talent runs much deeper than the schools that aren't in our league."


While Niskayuna's season has some question marks, one thing is certain: they will carry the memory of their friend and teammate with them along the way.


"He's out there," Neal said. "He's definitely gone, but he won't be forgotten."


jkoehler@timesunion.com - 454-5411





Players to watch


Stefan Kuhar, Sr., Albany Academy: A favorite to win the Section II singles title in his fifth year with the Cadets.


Rohin Bose, Jr., Bethlehem: The No. 1 singles player for the Eagles this season. Won the 2011 sectional doubles title with former Eagle Kade Pettie.


Austin Malerba, Sr., Guilderland: Will help pace the Dutchmen as the No. 1 singles player in his fifth season on the team.


Teams to watch


Bethlehem: Will seek its seventh sectional title under 12th-year coach Steve Smith without former standout Josh Jachuck.


Albany Academy: Coming off a 14-0 campaign, which included a Class A sectional title.


Guilderland: A young squad with three eighth-graders, including Alex Federov, which hopes to defend its sectional crown.


Story lines


Bill McArthur will take over the coaching duties for Shenendehowa after longtime coach Gene Gould retired.


Scotia and Albany Academy will meet on April 3 in their first meeting since the 2011 Class A sectional final.


The Suburban Council is loaded with talent from Guilderland to Bethlehem to Saratoga.





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C4 Players, teams and stories to watch.