Mainland’s Mustangs advanced in the NJSIAA playoffs Thursday, May 10, after defeating Toms River East 5-0, then lost to higher seed Shawnee Monday.
Two players, sophomore first singles Ethan Fischer and the second doubles team of Josh Margolis and Chris Sartain, went 6-0, 6-0.
“It was a good match,” Fischer said. “So far we’re playing exactly the same as we were last year.”
Last season, Mainland’s deep team was undefeated in the regular conference and won the South Jersey title.
The ‘Stangs are 8-3 for the season, losing only to top seeded Atlantic City, Vineland and Haddonfield.
Second singles Chris Nazha said facing the competitive Haddonfield was “more like a warm up for the playoffs.”
Fischer said the team has never lost a match by more than 3-2.
“I think we’re doing pretty good (this season),” third singles Alex Nhan said. Nhan said the team was hoping for a repeat of last year’s undefeated season, but said the team was developing well and played with confidence against Toms River.
Nhan went 6-2, 6-0. Nazha won 6-3, 6-1 and first doubles Doug Moglia and Ryan Pangilinan won 6-0, 6-3.
“We did very well, but it was a tough match,” Nazha said on Toms River East.
“We played well. It was nice to see that all five guys win,” Mainland head coach Chris Connolly said.
Connolly said that overall, the team has had a strong season, but has gone through some “high points and low points,” particularly after losing two senior varsity players to graduation last season.
The team supplemented the losses with underclassman, including a freshman player at first doubles, sophomore Ethan Fischer at first singles and a sophomore player at second doubles.
The team is coming together at the right time, however.
Connolly said second doubles is undefeated and first doubles had only one loss.
He added that despite the May 8 loss to Haddonfield, the team played competitively, and felt the ‘Stangs would be ready to face off against Shawnee on Monday, May 14.
Mainland is seeded seventh and Shawnee is seeded second.
“It will be difficult for us to win the conference like we did last year, but we could definitely match up against Shawnee,” Connolly said. “Either way, I’m proud of their effort this season.”
Mainland fell to Shawnee 3-2. The doubles teams won, but No. 2 seed Shawnee swept the singles. Mainland was seeded seventh in the South Jersey tournament.
In addition to Monday’s game against Shawnee, Mainland is scheduled to face off away against Egg Harbor Township on Tuesday at 4 p.m., at home Wednesday against Oakcrest at 4 p.m., away against Absegami on Thursday at 4 p.m.