OCHS Teams of the Century

Don Barton Raider Boys Tennis Player of the Century!

Gazette Staff Writer

Boys tennis was a pretty successful sport at Ocean City High School in the 20th century.

The Raiders won a trio of South Jersey championships and won 10 straight titles in the National Conference of the Cape-Atlantic League. They also won 115 straight league matches from the mid-70s through the early-80s, the third longest CAL winning streak in any sport.

With success like that, there were obviously a number of good players through the years. But it is clear that the Player of the Century is Don Barton.

Barton played at No. 1 singles for the Raiders his final three years, compiling a 65-3 record. He was 61-0 against South Jersey opponents. Barton also had success as a freshman playing doubles. During his four years, Ocean City won three South Jersey championships and four league titles. His career record, counting doubles, was 84-4.

We have selected five singles players to the All-Century Team, two more than needed for a regular high school lineup, and some of the choices were still difficult.

Backing up Barton at singles are Joe Carey, our Player of the 90s, who played his freshman year at St. Augustine Prep and then had three 20-win seasons for the Raiders; Kevin Schmidt, the No. 1 player three straight years before Carey; Lou Paone, the No. 1 player on two teams in the mid-80s, including a league champion and South Jersey finalist; and Kyle Ragan, an All-South Jersey selection in his only year at No. 1 singles but also a big success at No. 2 behind Carey.

The All-Century first doubles team comprises Tim Aspinwall and Tom Heist III, an undefeated team during their senior year in 1982. At the other doubles spot is Tom Dawson and Scott McTigue from 1976-77. Dawson went on to become an All-South Jersey singles player in 1978.

There is only one choice for the coach of this team. Phil Birnbaum coached 31 of the Raiders’ 32 varsity teams and coached those teams to 441 victories, the most by any coach in a single sport at OCHS. His success in tennis has continued away from the high school. He is the city’s Director of Tennis and organizes the state high school singles and doubles tournaments for the NJSIAA.

The Team of the Century was the 1976 South Jersey champions that finished 23-4. This team was led by Barton, as a junior, along with senior singles players Jim Mott and Wayne Leroy. The first doubles team was seniors Ken “Fritters” Farrell and Wally Thomas, who played without a right arm. At second doubles were Dawson and McTigue, who moved up to first doubles the following season.

This team was undefeated CAL champions, losing twice to South Jersey Conference champ Millville, once to Group 4 champion Cherry Hill East and the other in the State Group 2 final to Princeton.

The All-Century Raider Boys Tennis Team
No. 1 Don Barton (1977)
No. 2 Joe Carey (1996)
No. 3 Kevin Schmidt (1993)
No. 4 Lou Paone (1984)
No. 5 Kyle Ragan (1997)
1st Doubles....Tim Aspinwall-Tom Heist III (1982)
2nd Doubles...Tom Dawson-Scott McTigue (1977)
Coach Phil Birnbaum (1970-2000)

The 1976 Team - Best of the Century
No. 1 Don Barton
No. 2 Jim Mott
No. 3 Wayne Leroy
1st Doubles....Ken Farrell-Wally Thomas
2nd Doubles...Tom Dawson-Scott McTigue
Coach Phil Birnbaum

Championship Teams

South Jersey titles: 1976, 1975, 1974
CAL-National titles: 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1974

All-Time Coaches Records
Phil Birnbaum (31 years).....441-205 [.683]
Dixie Howell (1).....................4-8 [.333]