Hawks boys claim share of GMC tennis championship

By JIMMY ALLINDER Correspondent

 Metuchen High School’s Aditya Uppuluri hits a forehand shot back to Dunellen High School’s Jesse McGrath during their preliminary round match at the Greater Middlesex Conference Tennis Tournament held at Thomas Edison Park in Edison. Uppuluri won the first singles match. Metuchen High School’s Aditya Uppuluri hits a forehand shot back to Dunellen High School’s Jesse McGrath during their preliminary round match at the Greater Middlesex Conference Tennis Tournament held at Thomas Edison Park in Edison. Uppuluri won the first singles match.

W hile sharing the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) boys tennis tournament title isn’t as satisfying as winning it outright, J.P. Stevens High School has to feel good about itself considering the circumstances.

The defending champions needed a comeback win in the final match on April 26 at Edison Park by second singles player Sarthak Mohanty to secure the point enabling the Hawks to tie South Brunswick High School for the conference title. J.P. Stevens and South Brunswick finished with 15 points, while East Brunswick High School placed third with 14 points.

Other area teams to place were Metuchen High School, which tied with Old Bridge High School for sixth place, with four points; St. Joseph High School of Metuchen, which placed eighth, with three points; and Edison High School, which tied with Monroe Township High School for ninth place, with two points.

All the final matches were completed while Mohanty was still battling and down a set to Justin Chong of Old Bridge. That’s when the Hawks’ junior rallied to win the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (3), and clinch the match with a 6-4 victory in the third and deciding set.

In addition to Mohanty’s victory, J.P. Stevens received another important point from third singles player Vishal Walia, who defeated East Brunswick’s Harold Trakhman, 6-1, 6-0. The second doubles team of Arjun Krishnan and Brian Ho lost, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2), to South Brunswick’s Viknesh Lakshmanan and Shiva Alladi, but the match was extremely close, as each set went to a tiebreaker.

In the semifinals played the day before, the Hawks’ first singles player, Gokul Murguesan, lost to eventual champion Josh Marchalik of East Brunswick, 4-6, 6-3. In the first doubles competition, the J.P. Stevens pair of Tarush Aneja and Alex Telson was eliminated by eventual champions Larry Liu and Vivek Subramani of South Brunswick, 6-2 and 6-3.

In GMC Red Division dual matches, J.P. Stevens is undefeated and has already beaten East Brunswick in the teams’ first match. However, the division will not be decided until after a second meeting with the Bears on May 14 and a match that needs to be made up with South Brunswick on May 1, as well as a second match scheduled on a date to be determined.

Girls golf

Girls golf may not yet receive the same attention in this area as the boys teams, but J.P. Stevens has developed into one of the top teams in the area in recent seasons.

Coached by Patty Savulich, who has worked her magic with the volleyball programs in past seasons, the girls finished

14-4 a year ago and are 6-4 this spring.

“Our administration has been very supportive,” she said. “We are playing some matches at Metuchen Country Club, which is a privilege. Head pro Andy Brock has been very helpful in giving tips on how to manage the course and play at the right pace. Our other matches are held at the Plainfield West Nine, where head pro Bill Castner has been very accommodating.”

While the loss of key seniors has been felt, evidence that the future is bright has been seen through the emergence of two freshmen — Grace Wu, who has taken over the first position, and Victoria Tan, who is seeing frequent action. Jamie Kang, a member of the Hawks’ tennis team, has excelled in her first season playing golf, and she has become another regular.

Others include junior Amber Lin, whose experience has been key, senior Clara Le, juniors Paulina Lee and Kobi Dent, and sophomore Riya Juneja.

Savulich said golf has become so popular with the girls that an unofficial junior varsity team has enabled others to play the sport.

“Our goals are for each girl to improve her game and become a team player,” Savulich said. “They all are smart, with many other activities they juggle with golf. Dedicating time on the course is difficult, but the girls are making it a priority, which I hope will enable us to become a different team by the end of the season.”


In boys volleyball action, the area teams that have experienced the most success in recent years continue to be the top performers in early action this spring.

St. Joe’s, which finished 41-5 and went all the way to the state finals before losing to Southern Regional High School a year ago, has done a credible job of putting together a 15-5 record against outstanding competition. Coached by Miguel Cabrita, the Falcons are looking for the right combination to make up for the loss of six graduated regulars.

“We have some work still to do, but we are getting there,” Cabrita said. “We compete in a tough conference where any team on a given day seems to be able to knock off one another.”

The GMC has developed a well-earned reputation for being one of the best boys volleyball conferences in the state, and it’s getting better, as Cabrita attests. In the past, St. Joe’s and East Brunswick usually battled for first place. But now other teams, including Piscataway Township High School, Old Bridge, J.P. Stevens and South Brunswick, provide formidable competition.

The starting lineup for St. Joe’s includes returning senior middle Thomas Burrell (133 kills), junior setter Justin Dai (362 assists), junior outside Corey Ditmars (143 kills), junior middle Tyler Gerckens, senior outside George Witteman, senior right side Michael Cintron, and senior libero Andrew Goyer (140 digs).

“We still are confident we can win the [Red] division and conference tournament,” Cabrera said. “That is always our goal, as is winning the state championship.”