After back to back seasons atop the SEC Liberty Division, the Columbia Boys Tennis Team finally moved up to the SEC American Division. Against better competition, the team’s win loss record took a hit, but the overall performance they turned in was solid and showed a good foundation for their future in the American Division. The team went 8-13 overall with a 6-11 record in conference, and showed that they can hold their own amongst some great competition.
The team took some pretty hard 0-5 losses to teams like Montclair, Millburn, Livingston and Seton Hall Prep, who are all ranked near the top of the state. But they played well against all their other competition, compiling an 8-5 record outside of those matches. They got some solid 5-0 wins over teams like Nutley and Verona, and had a few very closes matches, including a 2-3 loss to Chatham, and an intense 3-2 win over Montclair Kimberley Academy.
Junior Kevin Tamayo went 11-8 in singles matches to lead the team, while sophomores Ben Kaplan and Adam Kaplan went 8-11 and 8-12 respectively. Junior Seth Gordon and Seniors Armand O’Keefe, Seth Brand and Avery Lieber primarily played doubles. They rotated partners often and struggled throughout the season, but pulled together a few wins to round out the season. Brand, who played only four singles matches, managed a 3-1 record in them, but went 7-9 in doubles.
“The key to doubles performance is finding the right partner,” said Brand, who played with multiple partners throughout the season. Brand traditionally played doubles throughout his career. The team as a whole “just needed to build up confidence to compete against higher level teams” according to Brand. This was certainly true, as the jump in division meant meetings with Millburn and Montclair, some of the highest ranked teams in the state.
“Last year in the Liberty Division it was relatively easy to win matches without strategy. But in the American Division, my teammates and I had to use our tennis knowledge to find a way to win,” explained Brand. Clearly the team was ready to move up, but there are still significant steps to be made for the team to compete at a higher level and give the best teams in the division a run for their money.
Brand believes that the team would benefit from “more preparation as a team during the winter months”, but believes that the future will be bright, and that “the higher competition made the team more strategic players” which will translate into success in the future.
The team had an overall average year on paper, with many players individual records hovering right around .500, just the same as the team itself. They will surely be looking to make strides in the future to improve their record and become a mainstay and a contender in the American Division. They seem to be primed to rise up in the division and give their competition a real fight.