WEST WINDSOR, NJ – The Pioneers boys’ tennis team will walk into New Providence High School on Thursday with a little chip on their shoulder.
Following a 3-2 victory over Pittman on Wednesday at Mercer County Park, the varsity tennis squad became the first team in school history to win three consecutive group championships.
New Providence defeated Pitman in second- and third-singles, as well as first-doubles, to earn the Group 1 title and advance to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions next Tuesday.
“We’re just one of the many great athletic programs in the high school,” head coach John Delloiacono said. “It's really more of a testimony to the kids and all of their hard work. I’m just driving the bus, but their feet are making it move along. Its been pretty cool though.”
After splitting the first four outcomes, New Providence winning third-singles and first-doubles, with Pitman coming away with the first-singles and second-doubles matches, the Group 1 championship came down to the racket of senior Kevin Maluso.
The four time section champion took the first set and was two service points from sweeping the match away from David Shirley, before the Pitman junior began a huge rally to take the middle set on an 8-6 tie break.
Maluso controlled the final set of the match. Despite an eight-minute long medical timeout called by Shirley, Maluso took six of the seven games in the match to win the third Group 1 championship of his career.
“You never get what you want and you can never ask for something to come down to you like that,” Maluso said. “The important thing to do is focus on the point, you can’t think of what it means and that everything is coming down to you. You just have to take it a point at a time and that’s what I did.”
New Providence got two strong showings outside of Maluso’s victory. Third singles player Kevin Stinchcomb dominated group play. He did not give up a single game in the group semifinal earlier in the day, then allowed Giavanni Rizzo to win just one game in the first set before blanking him in the match-winning frame.
“I tried my hardest not to [give up a point],” Stinchcomb said. “I gave up one game in the first set, but I feel like that kind of loosened me up a little bit. It made me kind of hit out a little bit, try my hardest. I didn’t lose a lot, but I did lose some.”
First-doubles partners Jack Galardi and David Sann also dominated their own match, winning 6-1, 6-2.
New Providence co-captain/first-singles player Alex Hocken and second-doubles pair Brett Caminiti and Daiki Ogino, both fell in straight sets.
The Pioneers are back in action on Tuesday when they head back to Mercer County Park for the Tournament of Champions.