It was business as usual for Highland Park High School’s top-seeded Maverick Lin at the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Singles/Doubles Tennis Championships at Mercer County Park on Tuesday afternoon.
Lin, a sophomore with an unbeaten record this season (24-0) and the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament first-singles title, easily wrapped up the first set against Clifton’s Richard Rangga, alphabetically seeded 9-16. In fact, Lin was down 0-40 in the last game of the set but came back to break Rangga for the 6-1 win.
In the second set, however, Rangga got on the offensive as the two rivals went point-for-point with long, hard-hitting rallies. It was a tighter contest than indicated by the 6-2 score, which secured Lin a spot in Wednesday’s semifinal against third-seeded Kenny Zheng of Hopewell Valley.
“I know I lost focus for a few points in the second set and he took advantage of that,” said Lin after his 6-1, 6-2 victory. “I’m proud of the win, but it’s not over yet.”
Though the rivals never faced each other this season, Lin said he played Rangga in a USTA tournament when they were about 14 years old.
“I don’t think he was used to the level of consistency in the first set,” added Lin, who held serve for the entire first bout. “But he started going for his shots in the second set and they were landing in –including some down-the-line passing shots. I tried to push him back so he couldn’t get a clean hit on the ball.”
Unlike the earlier rounds, when hazy, hot and humid conditions were a factor — not to mention the wind — it was a glorious day with temperatures hovering around 70 degrees.
“It’s a great accomplishment for him,” Highland Park coach Tim Stark said of Lin’s convincing win. “These last eight players are all great – every match is going to be tough. But Maverick played very well again today. I think he had his serve broken only once.”
Lin, who has dropped just one set this season to South Brunswick’s Dylan Karchere-Sun, the GMCT runner-up, said he was going to scout the quarterfinal match between Zheng and Saddle River Day’s 5-8 seeded Daniel Wright, which was in its second set.
Three other GMC first-singles players made it to the round of 16 — South Brunswick’s Karchere-Sun, J.P. Stevens’ Sarthak Mohanty and East Brunswick’s Josh Marchalik — but only Lin advanced to the quarterfinals.