The Columbia High School boys’ varsity tennis team lost seven players to graduation from last year’s conference championship-winning squad, including five starters.
But with a deep roster that features promising, hard-working players, the Cougars are looking to have another successful season.
Guided by head coach Bob Lieberman, CHS finished 18-6 overall, including winning the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division championship with an undefeated 12-0 divisional mark last season.
The captains this season are senior Jared Levi and junior Avery Lieber. Levi plays the No. 1 singles position after starting last year at the No. 2 singles spot.
The other returning starter is sophomore Kevin Tamayo, who played doubles last year.
The Cougars welcome freshman twins Adam and Ben Kaplan, who both compete in the USTA circuit.
The rest of the team includes senior Daniel Pomper; juniors Armand O’Keefe, Ryan Perlee and Seth Brand; and sophomores Seth Gordon and Jackson Wagner.
Lieberman, who also is the CHS girls’ varsity tennis head coach in the fall, said this is the deepest team he has had in his five seasons as the boys’ head coach.
The Cougars this season seek to repeat as SEC-Liberty Division champions; and make strong runs in the Essex County Tournament and state North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 tournament. Last season, the fifth-seeded Cougars reached the ECT quarterfinals, losing to fourth-seeded Montclair, 4-1. Then in the state sectional tournament, the sixth-seeded Cougars beat 11th-seeded Phillipsburg, 5-0, in the first round before losing to third-seeded Ridge, 3-2, in the quarterfinals. It marked the second year in a row that the Cougars won in the first round of the state sectional tournament.
Along with Verona, the other divisional opponents are Bloomfield, West Orange, Caldwell, Glen Ridge and Golda Och Academy. The Cougars also face strong SEC non-divisional opponents such as Newark Academy, Millburn and Montclair. Non-conference opponents include Bridgewater-Raritan, Scotch Plains-Fanwood and New Providence.
The Cougars’ home regular-season matches all will be held in April. The Meadowland Park courts are expected to be resurfaced in May. The Cougars’ season opener at home against divisional foe Verona was postponed April 1 due to rain. CHS will host Newark East Side on Friday, April 8, at 4 p.m.
April 6, West Orange, 4 p.m.
April 7, at Montclair, 4 p.m.
April 8, Newark East Side, 4 p.m.
April 11, Golda Och Academy, 4 p.m.
April 12, Bridgewater-Raritan, 4 p.m.
April 13, Caldwell, 4 p.m.
April 14, Chatham, 4 p.m.
April 15, Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
April 18, at Nutley, 4 p.m.
April 19, Seton Hall Prep, 4 p.m.
April 20, at Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 4 p.m.
April 21, Newark Academy, 4 p.m.
April 25, at Verona, 4 p.m.
April 26, Essex County Tournament, at Branch Brook Park, Newark
April 27, at Glen Ridge, 4 p.m.
April 29, at West Orange, 4 p.m
May 2, at New Providence, 4 p.m.
May 4, at Golda Och Academy, 4 p.m.
May 6, at Millburn, 4 p.m.
May 9 ,at Caldwell, 4 p.m.
May 11, at Bloomfield, 4 p.m.
May 17, at Governor Livingston, 4 p.m.