WEST WINDSOR, NJ - For the first time since 2014, the New Providence boys’ tennis team had a chance to claim a group title when they faced Mountain Lakes, but was unable to do so as they fell 5-0 to the powerhouse from northern New Jersey.
Before they reached that match, the Pioneers first had to take on Highland Park in the group 1 semifinal at Mercer County Tennis Center in West Windsor Wednesday morning.
In a battle between two respective sectional champions, it was New Providence who came out on top 4-1 in a hard-earned match.
At first singles, Highland Park claimed their only point of the match as Patrick Lin topped junior Chris Kang, 6-3, 6-1.
The other positions for New Providence were all able to win in straight sets, with senior co-captain Cristiano Hocken dominating Justin Chang 6-2, 6-2 and his fellow senior and co-captain Johnny Souren at third singles won by a score of 6-4, 6-3.
At the first doubles positions, senior Zach Neidich and sophomore Brian Kelly breezed past their opposition, only dropping two total games, winning 6-2, 6-0.
And at the second doubles spot, senior Eric Schneider and freshman Ethan Neidich escaped with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) triumph to cap off the victory.
In the final, success was hard to come by for New Providence as they took on Mountain Lakes, the defending Group 1 champion and the team that ended the Pioneers season last year.
The singles had a tough go against the talented singles line-up of the Lakers, as Chris Kang and Johnny Souren both lost 6-0, 6-0 against their foes.
Cristiano Hocken, despite dropping the first set without winning a game, battled hard in the second set and was able to push the set to a tiebreaker, but ultimately fell 7-4 in the breaker.
Both pairs of doubles succumbed to a strong Mountain Lakes doubles side, with Kelly and Neidich losing 6-0, 6-3 and Schneider and the younger Neidich falling 6-3, 6-3.
The Pioneers finish a very successful season with an 11-6 record, finishing 3rd in the Union County Tournament as a team, and claiming an unprecedented 8th straight sectional title.