Montclair Tennis: Mounties battle hard, fall in sectional final
PHOTO BY ANDREW GARDA/STAFF
by Andrew Garda
LIVINGSTON—The No. 2-seeded Montclair High School boys tennis team fought hard in the 2018 NJSIAA North 1, Group IV Tournament championship match against top-seeded Livingston, battling back from early deficits to push four of five matches to a third set. But in the end the Lancers proved too much for the Mounties and took the sectional title with a 3-2 set victory.
As happens often in high school tennis, the most intriguing battles took place in singles play. At No. 1 singles, Montclair standout Leo Kupferman had to contend with Livingston’s Michael Sun, ranked first in New Jersey and fifth in the country, and someone Kupferman has now had multiple battles with during the season. Sun, who will be playing for Yale next year, started off hot, downing Kupferman in a 6-3 first set. However, the MHS junior wasn’t ready to roll over, and Kupferman used a blistering serve and a dogged return to get ahead of Sun in the second set, which clearly got under the Lancer star’s skin at some points — enough to where the NJSIAA official spent much of his time overseeing the second set.
But Sun did an excellent job of moving Kupferman all over the court, trying to force mistakes. The two had a fierce battle, but in the end, Sun came out on top with a 7-5 win in the second set.
Meanwhile things started off badly for Kevin Wallace at No. 2 singles, dropping the first set against Sam Levshteyn by a score of 6-0. Wallace roared back in the second set, winning it 6-4. Levshteyn came back in the third set and led 6-5 but had to retire due to cramps. The match had already been decided, as Livingston won both doubles points as well as the first singles match.
Kevin’s brother Andrew also had a fight on his hands at third singles, as Ross Coleman took the first set of their match 6-4, but like his twin, Andrew came back in the second set, beating Coleman 6-0 before winning the final set 6-2.
That core group of singles gives head coach Andrea Noyes a lot to look forward to next season.
“Leo’s a junior, the Wallaces are sophomores. DJ [Finnell], who played second doubles, is a sophomore,” Noyes said after the match. “Connor [Piorkowski] is a junior. So I’m losing two — Daniel [Korenbaum] and Max Weintraub — but I have a good squad. But, Livingston is losing a few players and Millburn is losing a few players.”
While most of the Mounties team is done for the year, Kupferman has one more tournament to go. He’ll be representing MHS at the NJSIAA State Singles Tournament, which begins Saturday, June 2, at Veterans Park in West Windsor. The 123-player bracket will continue play throughout the first week of June, concluding with the state championship match on June 7.
Kupferman’s season was strong enough to earn him a seed in the 9th-to-16th range, meaning he will avoid playing any of the other top 16 seeds until at least the Round of 16, should he continue to advance..
“As you saw today, he took Michael Sun [the No. 1 seed in the tournament] to seven in the second set,” Noyes said. “Leo’s a great player and he believes in himself and I think he can really give some people a hard time down there.”