WEST WINDSOR – Nick Bradley said he was going for the unexpected shot. But the little smile crossing his lips showed he wanted to end the match with a little flourish. The junior from Waldwick ripped a second-serve ace down the middle on match point to cap a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Ryan Dickerson of Moorestown on Wednesday to earn a berth in today’s final of the state boys tennis championships.
He is the first Waldwick player to reach a state final, and he will face top-seeded Maverick Lin of Highland Park.
“I saw that he was creeping over on every second serve,” the second-seeded Bradley said of No. 4 Dickerson.
“I didn’t think he’d be looking for it down the middle, so I went for it. And I got to finish with a bang.”
Bradley (30-0) and Dickerson were evenly matched, and it showed in the first set as each held serve through the first seven games with efficient groundstrokes.
Dickerson got the first break to take a 5-3 lead and was serving for the set. But Bradley turned it on and won the next six games — with three breaks — to take the first set, 7-5, and go up a break, 2-0, in the second.
“I settled down after he missed that first forehand [in the ninth game],” said Bradley, who will be looking to become the seventh Bergen County player to win a state title dating back to 1966, while following in the footsteps of Ramapo’s Jonathan Carcione, who won titles in 2011-12.
Dickerson wasn’t ready to give up. He got the break back in the eighth game of the second set to tie it at 4, and was serving up, 40-15. Bradley battled back to get the break and a 5-4 lead.
Dickerson managed to fight off a couple of match points in the 10th game. On the third match point, Bradley went for an ace down the middle and served it wide.
After a short walk to the net to see where it landed, the junior went back and surprised everybody, including Dickerson, with his second serve down the middle.
“I just wanted to see the mark and make a little adjustment because I knew I was going to go for the ‘T’ again,” he said.
The win gives Bradley the shot at Lin he’s been looking for since Lin was awarded the top seed over him a month ago.
Lin made short work of third-seeded Kenny Zheng of Hopewell Valley, winning the first 11 games on the way to his 6-0, 6-2 semifinal win.
“I’m glad Maverick is there,” Bradley said. “… But I have to treat it as just another match.”
State boys tennis championships
at Mercer County Park, West Windsor
(2) Nick Bradley, Waldwick def. (4) Ryan Dickerson, Moorestown, 7-5, 6-4; (1) Maverick Lin, Highland Park def. (3) Kenny Zheng, Hopewell Valley, 6-0, 6-2.