WEST ORANGE, NJ – After winning seven matches and earning an appearance in the state tournament, the season has come to a close for the West Orange boys’ tennis team.
This year, the team won matches against Irvington, Bloomfield, Paterson East Side, Newark East Side, and Golda Och. The team also earned the sixteenth seed in the Essex County Tournament, defeating Bloomfield in the preliminary round, but losing to top-seeded Newark Academy in the first round of play.
After the regular season, the Mountaineers qualified for the North Jersey Section One Group Four state playoffs as the ninth seeded team. West Orange lost, 5-0, to Passaic, who lost to the eventual champion Livingston. Though the Mountaineers could not win a championship, senior captain Kyle Freundlich said the team’s matches “were played effectively.” Freundlich said he also believes each player “certainly learned how to be a better player and better teammates throughout the season.”
The team received good performances from seniors Tyler Christian and Drew Garwin-McCoy. Christian won nine singles matches this season including three victories over Bloomfield. Captain Garwin-McCoy played well in doubles matches throughout the season.
Though Freundlich will be graduating West Orange High School and beginning school at University of Vermont this fall, he said he is hopeful for next year’s team because of the individual improvement of his teammates. “I’d look out for Trey Cohn and Quentin Mota next year,” he said. Cohn and Mota will be juniors next year and coming off of seasons in which each won five singles matches.
Freundlich also said he thinks that the doubles team of Richard McCleese and Matt Eng has made big strides in their play. “Richard and Matt have improved tremendously and I can see them becoming great players for next season.”
Tennis coach Dr. Victor Alcindor acknowledged challenges the team will face next season. “We are graduating our first singles player and our first doubles team, which will provide for challenges,” he said. “However, the openings have the potential to fuel great competition with our remaining players.”
The seniors leaving will be missed for both their play and leadership, said Alcindor. “Kyle, Drew, and Tyler are absolute gentlemen and wonderful leaders. They all offer varying facets of leadership, as Kyle is the archetypal leader who gets everyone on task, Drew's hustle and steadfastness is so evident that others want to follow his intensity, and Tyler is as steady as tennis players come, which lends to so many teachable coaching moments. We will miss them dearly.”
This season was Alcindor’s last as tennis coach, as he will turn over the coaching duties to physical education teacher Jeffrey Mazurek. Mazurek, who is also an assistant wrestling coach, instructed the JV boys’ tennis team this season and said he is excited to coach on the varsity level. He will also be coaching the girls’ varsity tennis team next season, which is an opportunity he is also grateful for.
“I first would like to thank Mr. Rutzky, Mr. Moore and Mr. Bligh for the opportunity to be the head coach of both the girls and boys tennis teams,” said Mazurek. “I am very excited for the challenge of coaching at the varsity level."
Mazurek said he is aware of challenges his teams will face, but has a positive outlook for the upcoming seasons.
"We play in a very strong and competitive conference, but I know that our student athletes will be ready to compete with the best,” he said. “It is going to be a great year for West Orange tennis and I am looking forward to getting started.”