WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield High School boys varsity tennis team’s season ended last week with a 1-4 loss to the first ranked team in the state, Montgomery, in the Group 4 championship. It was a good year for the team, which won a sectional title for the third straight year, a feat they accomplished last Monday with a 5-0 win against J.P. Stevens. The Blue Devils finished with a 24-3 record.

“Winning any championship at the high school level in consecutive years is quite an accomplishment, since typically these championships are won with different lineups due to graduation,” head coach George Kapner said. “This particular three-year streak of sectional championships is even more impressive when you factor in that the first and third teams each had a key athlete miss considerable time due to injury.”

The team had many major contributors. In first singles play Junior Damien Ruparel finished 17-5-1 and Senior Noah Reich finished 4-0. In second singles play Reich finished 20-3 and Senior Owen Bartok finished 3-0. In third singles play, Bartok finished 20-0.

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The team was without doubles player sophomore Matt Bartok for the year, but the team of junior Rob Faktor and sophomore Matthew Su finished 16-3-1 in first doubles play and juniors David Sprung and Jacob Tananbaum finished 12-5 in second doubles play.

“Coming into the season, we had a talented group of individual players, but I think over the course of the season we have developed into a really strong team,” Reich said. “We always strive to improve in practices and fight hard in matches and that dedication has helped us develop over the past few months.”

Despite the fact that tennis is played individually, the team aspect is still important.

“We have really good team chemistry this year,” Owen Bartok said. “Tennis is a sport where everyone is kind of playing individually at all five positions but I think we really have a good team atmosphere and really are able to pump each other up and that helps us, especially this year.”

The team also works hard in their strength training before the season.

“I think that’s really helped us at this point, especially later in the season with so many matches and just the wear and tear of playing every day,” Bartok said. “I think doing physical training beforehand really helped us out with endurance.”

Although the team will be without Reich and Bartok next year, Kapner believes this year’s success will carry over.

“That is, of course, always your hope and desire as a high school coach,” he said. “In order to build a program that wins year in and year out, each team needs to both win and pass on to the next team the knowledge of how to win. I believe that this year's senior captains, Owen Bartok and Noah Reich, have done exactly that. They led us to multiple championships and have taught the returning players how to train for next season and win once that season comes next March.”

Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.