by Andrew Garda
Montclair High School’s boys tennis team welcomed the Montclair Kimberley Academy Cougars to the Mountainside courts on Tuesday, April 10, but the welcome was about as chilly as the weather as they beat MKA 4-1, sweeping all three singles matches and one of two doubles.
Each of the singles wins took place in straight sets.
The win pushes the Mounties to 2-1 this season, with wins over MKA (now 2-1 as well) and Newark Academy, and one loss to a tough Livingston squad.
“We had a nice start against Newark Academy,” MHS head coach Andrea Noyes said after the MKA win. “Newark Academy is missing their number one player, which we were able to take advantage of. Our second match against Livingston—that’s going to be our problem, because we can’t get to the state finals unless we can get through Livingston. That’s always been a tough situation. [Livingston’s] Michael Sun is a really good player, so that was a tough match for Leo [Kupferman]. The second singles could have gone either way. I think Christian [Provenzano] could take that next time. Third singles we won, but my doubles were a little disappointing. We’re going to be working really hard on doubles because we need our doubles for all our matches.”
Against the Cougars, the Mounties were led by first singles Leo Kupferman, who had stepped up into one of the top spots on the team last year. As former Mounties player Peter Messenger has graduated, it’s up to Kupferman to lead the singles and he did so on Tuesday, winning his match against Arman Ganchi by scores of 6-2 and 6-3.
Kupferman started the match out a little slowly as Ganchi was able to score a few points early on, but the MHS junior rebounded and soon asserted control of the match.
Both players worked hard during some long volleys, but Kupferman’s hard forehand and strong serve were too much for Ganchi and the the Mounties first single slowly drew ahead of the Cougar.
“Leo’s captain of the team and he’s doing extremely well,” Noye said of her top player. “He worked very hard all winter and he’s been working with a coach, playing USTA. He’s psyched and looking forward to having a great team this year. He really wants to get to states, but not just individual states. But he wants to get there as a team.”
Kevin Wallace was Montclair’s second single on Tuesday, replacing the injured Christian Provenzano, a senior and recent addition to the team.
A senior who had not been with the team during past seasons, Provenzano had been a big part of the Mounties first win, as he posted 6-2, 6-3 sets against Newark Academy on April 5. While he and the rest of the team couldn’t overcome a very strong Livingston squad on April 9, he pushed the Lancers’ Sam Levshteyn to an 8-6 first set and hung with his opponent during a tough 6-4 loss in the second.
“Christian was a great blessing as a senior coming in,” Noye said. “He was hurt his freshman year and he focused on some other things he was working on and now wants to be part of the team.”
Provenzano is expected to be back soon.
With Provenzano out of action, Kevin Wallace moved to second singles while his twin brother, Andrew, moved into the third singles spot.
The Wallaces were primarily a doubles team last year, but after the 2017 season, there was always a strong likelihood that at least one would move to the singles.
Kevin Wallace took on MKA’s Will Michaels, and led during both sets, winning them both by a score of 6-2. He had been the most successful Mountie against Livingston, beating Ross Coleman in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3 and giving MHS their lone win of that meeting.
In fact, he has yet to lose a match this season, winning against Livingston, Newark Academy and now MKA.
His brother Andrew showed that Noyes can count on him to step up as needed as well with 6-0 and 6-1 wins over MKA’s Bennett La Londe.
First doubles pair Charles Becker and Connor Piorkowski were the only Mounties to lose, but even they pushed MKA’s Guyon Ganchi and Casey Szilagyi to a third set tiebreaker which came down to the last point. Becker and Piorkowski took the first set, 6-4, but dropped the second, 6-2. They lost the tiebreaker set 7-6.
“It was the first time they played together,” Noye said. “So that’s part of it. And we haven’t had much time to practice the doubles. Charles was a singles player last year and he needs to work on his doubles skills. And it’s a different game.”
The Mounties had more success with their second doubles pairing, made up of Daniel Korenbaum and Max Weintraub as they swept Brandon Liu and Rohan Moniz 6-4, 6-1.
Noyes said she’s still working out who will be paired with who for the doubles.
Next up for the Mounties is a game against Seton Hall on Thursday, while MKA faces Newark Academy at home on Monday. Both teams take part in the Essex County Tournament on Tuesday, April 16.