Ridge High School senior Mike Liu, seeded 5-8 in the NSJIAA Singles/Doubles Tennis Championships, was ahead in his third-set super tiebreaker, needing just two more points to advance to the next round.
But the Somerset County champion at first singles reinjured his leg and had to bow out. The final score against Carl Wozniczka of West Orange was 4-6, 6-3, 4-8 (retired).
“Mike took the first set,” said Ridge tennis coach Chad Griffiths, “then midway through the second set, it appeared that he aggravated his leg injury from his state sectional final match against Tyler Schick (Millburn). Then Mike Liu decided to concede the match to his opponent as he felt he would not be able to compete on Sunday.”
Though it was a tough decision, Griffiths said he supported it.
“As a coach, I’m very proud of him to make that decision because it shows good character and good sportsmanship. That’s something I think the younger players can look up to: ‘I can’t compete tomorrow, so you take it.’ “
Wesleyan-bound Liu, who was too upset to speak after his match, expressed disappointment in his bad timing.
“It’s a tough way to end my high school career,” Liu said. “No one wants to the season with a retirement in the middle of a state tournament.”
In hot, hazy and humid conditions at Veterans Park on Saturday afternoon, Ridge’s 5-8 seeded doubles team of Stephen Chung and Eric Zhang beat its Wayne Hills rivals 6-2, 6-0, but Rahul Hingorani, who plays second singles for the Red Devils, fell to Sarthak Mohanty of J.P. Stevens 7-6 (8), 6-2.
Senior Eric Oringer of Bernards advanced to the third round, which will be played at Mercer County Park on Sunday. He easily defeated Parsippany’s Omar Bokhari 6-2, 6-1, after downing Louis Abenate of St. Augustine 6-7 (5) 6-0, 10-6 in the first round.
“It feels good,” Oringer said. “I lost to Omar the last time we played. This time around, I played looser and more offensive and it paid off.”
With its first doubles team of Kevin Wallace and Andrew Wilford defeating Highland Park’s Yang Xu and Jason Choi 6-0, 6-2, Bernards still has three players in Sunday’s tournament.
“I think we played great,” said Wilford, a senior. “Highland Park had some great points – they put up a good fight, but we played hard and we played well.”
Bridgewater-Raritan’s Eric Tai, seeded 17-28, had a convincing 6-0, 6-2 win over Daichi Uchida of High Point.
“It always feels good to win,” Tai said. “Today’s weather conditions were definitely a factor. It was humid and pretty breezy, so you had to just play the weather.”
Montgomery’s third-seeded duo of Clark Chapman and Alesandro Scalapari also advanced with a dominant 6-1, 6-0 victory over Monroe’s Cian and Shail Desai.