by Andrew Garda

The Montclair High School boys tennis team is rolling.

In case you weren’t aware of the best kept secret in town, just follow the trail of battered opponents the Mounties have been leaving in their wake the first two weeks of the season.

After a 4-1 opening day loss to Millburn, MHS ripped off four wins in the next five matches, including a big upset of top-ranked Newark Academy. They then shut out Nutley, stumbled in the open round of Saturday’s 2017 Bryan Bennett Memorial Invitation with a close 3-2 loss to Moorestown, before shutting out Haddonfield 5-0 in the consolation round.

They then capped things off with a 3-2 win over Holmdel on Sunday.

The real buzz came from that upset of Newark Academy, a team that has had the Mounties’ number for some time. Not just the Mounties’ number either — all of North Jersey has its hands full when it comes to the Minutemen.
The Mounties’ 3-2 win on Wednesday, April 5, was a hard-fought victory, and came down to a doubles victory by freshman brothers Kevin and Andrew Wallace.

The Wallaces were locked in a 1-1 tie with Newark Academy’s Reese Puntus and Alex Chen, with each doubles team taking one set.

In the superset, it was all Montclair though, with the Wallace brothers winning 6-1, giving the Mounties a big victory.

Also vital to the win were singles victories by sophomore Leo Kupferman and senior Peter Messenger. The number one and two singles players on the team, Kupferman and Messenger have consistently dominated the competition.
Kupferman had a bit of a fight on his hands against Minuteman Thomas Ito, edging the Newark Academy player 7-6 in the first set before blanking him in the second set for the win. Messenger had less trouble with Alex Leaf, beating the latter 6-3 and 6-2 in straight sets.

Both easily won their matches in the Invitational last weekend as well, both in the loss to Morristown and the win over Haddonfield.

The presence of Kupferman and Messenger gives Montclair Head Coach Andrea Noyes a great foundation to work with, as both players are consistently strong in their play.

It’s especially gratifying for her to see Kupferman as he has taken a massive step forward in his sophomore year.

After a hiccup in his first match against Millburn — his first as number one single — Kupferman has been rock solid, not losing a set since (he did not play in the second consolation round against Holmdel at the Bryant Bennett Memorial Tournament).

The key to continued success seems to be how the doubles pairs play out. Besides the Wallaces, there are several solid players who need a little more consistency.

That being said, so far it looks as if the Mounties are poised for a breakout season.

They’ll get two more stiff tests as they face Livingston on Wednesday and Glen Ridge on Thursday, both matches at the Mountainside courts in Montclair.