Before the 2019 boys’ tennis season, the South Brunswick High School players talked about doing one thing above all others.
Their mission was to avenge their second-place finish to John P. Stevens High School in the 2018 Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament.
On April 29 at Thomas A. Edison Park in Edison, the Vikings did just that.
In the 2019 GMC Tournament, South Brunswick edged J.P. Stevens and East Brunswick High School. The Vikings collected 40 points while their rivals accumulated 38 and 35, respectively.
With the narrow victory, the Vikings accomplished their goal of becoming GMC champion–and beating J.P. Stevens to do it.
“We have a great group of guys this year,” said senior Rushil Vishwanathan, South Brunswick’s No. 2 singles player. “And we’ve all improved over last year.”
Vishwanathan, junior first singles player Ashwin Kanetkar and junior third singles player Akshat Satija have helped South Brunswick achieve an 8-2 record in 2019. But it was the Vikings’ doubles teams that propelled the squad to its conference championship.
At first doubles, sophomore Aryan Badgujar and senior Rohan Narayan took first place in the GMC Tournament. In the first doubles championship, they defeated J.P. Stevens’ top team, 6-2, 6-1.
At second doubles, sophomores Nathan Sankar and Adityaa Magesh Kumar also earned a first place finish. In the second doubles title match, they topped J.P. Stevens’ No. 2 team, 6-4, 6-1.
The doubles triumphs pushed the Vikings ahead of their rivals. East Brunswick took first place medals at first and third singles, while J.P. won second singles.
“Those two teams are always too evenly matched with us to really predict,” said South Brunswick coach John Lolli. “But our doubles teams are both incredible.”
“The improvement from the four guys playing doubles right now, from last year, is more than anything even that I’ve seen from the singles,” Lolli added.
For the Vikings, that improvement made the difference between second place in 2018 and first place in 2019. A year ago, South Brunswick ended the GMC Tournament with 32 points and J.P. Stevens finished with 36. The Hawks earned both doubles titles with championship victories over South Brunswick teams.
The opposite happened this time around.
“Being able to compete more at that position should help,” Lolli said, presciently, back in March.
Now the question becomes, will it help moving forward as well? Before the season, South Brunswick also wanted to “avenge” another loss from last spring– its 5-0 decision to Montgomery High School in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 4 sectional tournament championship.
South Brunswick and Montgomery are both still in Central Jersey, Group 4, and the Cougars, who have won the last two NJSIAA Tournament of Champions state titles, are as dominant as ever, with a 14-0 record in 2019.
South Brunswick will also have to get past a host of other New Jersey powers in probably the toughest state sectional field in the state. Marlboro High School is 15-0. West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South is 15-2, and always formidable. Even East Brunswick will be a tough out again.
But the Vikings are more balanced this year, and they are ready for the challenge.
“It’s a great group,” Lolli said.
“I’m excited to see what we can do,” Vishwanathan added.