by Andrew Garda
The Montclair High School Boys tennis team had a wild weekend, including a first round on Saturday which was interrupted by rain, multiple super-set finishes on Sunday when things resumed and their first ever appearance in the Essex County Tournament finals.
Unfortunately, the Mounties fell to Millburn 4-1 in the finals, but their 3-2 win over Livingston in the semi-final marked another high water mark in a season which has been filled with them.
The semifinal victory was lead by good sets by the top MHS singles, sophomore Leo Kupferman and senior Peter Messenger.
Messenger, the second single, beat Livingston’s Jason Grant in straight sets while first single Kupferman had to beat Earl Hsiegh in a super-set, by a score of 10-6. Kupferman’s victory was actually the win to put the Mounties into the finals.
On the doubles side, Calvin Alexander and Aaron Reznik beat Livingston’s Ross Coleman and Aaron Tucker in a super-set.
After a ninety minute break, play resumed and the Mounties seemed to take the momentum from Kupferman’s win and roll with it into the match with Millburn. MHS was up 4-1 after the first sets were in with only one loss and Millburn was on its heels. Things looked really good when freshman brothers Andrew and Kevin Wallace beat Millers Jai Bansal and Jason Dresner at first doubles.
However, Millburn would not quit and the Mounties, who had to win multiple super-sets, seemed to wear down. While the squad fought hard, Millburn slowly chipped away at Montclair’s lead. First, Charles Baker
the second MHS doubles flight of Alexander and Reznik lost their third set to John Murray and David Sternlieb (2-6,6-2,6-3).
Then Kupferman fell in a protracted battle to Millburn junior Alex Jacobs. who played a brilliant second and third set to win, mixing in short drop shots to tire Kupferman out. While he was down 4-3 at one point, Jacobs battled back to win the third set (3-6, 6-3, 6-4).
The point clinched Millburn’s title win, though a short time later Messenger was defeated by Bryan Schick.
While Montclair may have fallen short, there is nothing for them to hang their heads about. This has been a team full of surprises all season long, and they have a lot of tennis yet to play. For those who still doubt the talent of this group of players, they should pay close attention to the upcoming state tennis tournament.
Likely there will be more surprises in store.
For more complete coverage of the MHS tennis team’s County matches, see this Thursday’s Montclair Local.