by Andrew Garda

NEWARK—The Montclair High School and Montclair Kimberley Academy girls tennis teams ended the day on very different notes after taking part in the Essex County Tournament at the Althea Gibson Tennis Center in Newark on Monday.

For the Cougars, a date in the semifinals awaits them this Saturday after two big wins on Monday, while the Mounties will have to make their way through the consolation bracket if they want to take some hardware home.

The fourth-seeded Cougars dispatched No. 13 Caldwell in the opening round, 5-0, including straight set wins for first singles Mia Bohi-Green, second singles  Emily Talkow and No. 3 Micheala O’Hare. Doubles pairings of Ainsley Manlowe/Joelle Crichlow and Katie Gyues/Amanda Gittleman both achieved victory for MKA.

The Cougars then overpowered fifth-seeded Verona, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, setting up a date with top-seeded Newark Academy Saturday morning.

“We lost to Verona in this round last year, so this feels good,” Wing said after his team had locked down their semifinal spot. “We’re excited to be in the semis.”

Talkow, O’Hare and both doubles pairings won their matches in straight sets to carry the Cougars to victory.

The Mounties’ path was a bit rockier than their crosstown rivals, and they had to contend with not having their No. 2 single, Lily Feinberg, available. That forced Amari Weddle to move up to fill that spot and Charlotte Fischer to step in to replace Weddle at third single.

While the MHS squad fought hard, they couldn’t overcome a sharp Glen Ridge team, and fell 4-1.

“[Losing to] Glen Ridge was kind of a disappointment,” head coach Dawn DeMayo said after the match. “I went in hoping to beat them. I was down my No. 2 so people had to play up, but doubles fought really, really hard.”

The Mounties bounced back to beat Golda Och 4-1 in order to move on to the consolation bracket, and DeMayo liked the way the team responded after losing to Glen Ridge. Now that they have advanced, the Mounties have the chance to win the consolation title for the third year in a row.

The team will face former 12-seed Mount St. Dominic in the quarterfinals Saturday and DeMayo is hoping the team will be back intact.

“Hopefully [Feinberg] will be back on Saturday and we’ll have a full squad against Mount St. Dominic, which I think is very beatable. Then we’ll see who we get in the finals.”

The Mounties will either face Nutley or West Orange, if they do overcome The Mount in the Consolation quarterfinals,

Before then, the Mounties and Cougars will both have to overcome the weather and get some practice in. The recent spate of rain has been difficult, particularly for DeMayo’s team. The Mountie coach has had to reschedule four matches so far and she feels the disruption played a hand in Monday’s result.

“[The weather] really throws us off, because our schedule is so loaded in the front and we’re playing every day,” she explained. “When you’re playing every day ... and you’re playing different people, you’re getting better and you’re getting stronger.”