MONTCLAIR—Ridgewood tennis knew every edge counted in its sectional title bout verse Livingston. Fighting to the last match, the Maroons came up a little short and dropped the game to the Lancers 3-2.
Coming into the tournament as defending champions and losers of only one game all year, Ridgewood was primed for a No. 1 seed—and the subsequent home-field advantage. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association thought differently, and Livingston earned the top spot.
In the early rounds, both teams easily dispatched its foes. For the title match, the Maroons had to travel to Nishuane Park in Montclair, instead of playing on East Ridgewood Avenue.
Lancer sophomore Thomas Caputo overcame a pinched nerve and a torn cervical cord in his neck to lead the Lancers to their first state sectional title since 2004.
Matched up against Chris Hu of Ridgewood, Caputo, the No. 4 seed in the state singles tournament, dispensed of Hu by scores of 6-0 and 6-3.
"I felt that I won more tactically than I did physically today," Caputo said. "[I] kept the ball in the court, moved him around, [and] let him fold under the pressure."
Caputo said that the neck did not affect him too much during the match. "I went to the physical therapist before," he said. "He massaged it out and lined my neck up, so I was good to go."
Second singles featured Brandon Goldstein of Livingston against Charlie Gundeck of Ridgewood. Goldstein was undefeated on the season entering the match, but Gundeck notched the first blemish on Goldstein's resume—winning in straight sets, 6-2 and 6-2.
"Once he held serve the first game, then I pretty much handled the match from there," Gundeck said. "I just tried to be very aggressive and keep the ball deep."
Gundeck said the keys to his success were that, "I didn't double fault as much, and I hit the ball in, so that helps."
First doubles, with Jesse Bloom and Ben Hanft of Livingston facing Eddie Harlin and Stephen Miedel of Ridgewood, was close in both sets. Ridgewood took the match 7-5 and 7-6 but not without the Lancers fighting back. Despite being down 5-0 in the first set, Bloom and Hanft rallied back to get to five games each. The Maroons took the next two games to win the set.
In the second set, the Lancers forced a tiebreaker, but Harlin and Miedel won that and took the match in straight sets.
Second doubles was all Livingston as Matt Wolff and Kevin Sun defeated Sam Keefer and Terrance Lam, 6-1 and 6-2.
"Our ground stroke game [was good], and Sun was playing great in the game and we were both serving pretty good so all put together it played out well," Wolff said.
Even at two wins apiece, the day's only three-set match—third singles between Varun Dyapa of Livingston and Griffin Kurzius of Ridgewood—would determine the sectional title.
Kurzius won the first set 6-2 before Dyapa fought back and took the second set 6-2. The third set was very close. The pair played to five games each before Kurzius began cramping up.
After a medical timeout by Kurzius to attend to his leg, Dyapa won two straight games to take the set 7-5 and the match 2-6, 6-2 and 7-5.
Although the loss ended its state title hopes, coach Deirdre Brewer's squad walked away with another solid season and primed for future success.