Wednesday, June 5
WEST WINDSOR – Waldwick’s Nick Bradley isn’t about to sit back thinking he can ride his status as the No. 2 seed into the finals of the boys tennis state championships.The junior jumped out quickly in Tuesday’s quarterfinals and went on to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Holmdel’s Michael Chen to advance to today’s tournament semifinals against fourth-seeded Ryan Dickerson of Moorestown.
“I’ve played him a couple of times, and I knew he was going to try to take my offensive game away from me,” said Bradley, who was knocked out in the quarterfinals in his first tournament appearance last year. “So I knew I had to really take it to him.”
Richard Rangga of Clifton had his run in the tournament stopped in the quarterfinals by top-seeded Maverick Lin of Highland Park, 6-1, 6-2; and Saddle River Day’s Daniel Wright fell to third-seeded Kenny Zheng of Hopewell Valley, 6-4, 6-2. Lin and Zheng will face off today in the other semifinal.
Bradley, who has lost just nine games in four matches so far, used a big serve and strong backhand to put Chen back on his heels in the first set.
“I tried to keep the ball deep so he couldn’t come in,” Bradley said. “I had to make sure I got my first serve in. I knew my forehand was going to be there and I was happy with the way I hit my backhand.”
Chen was hoping to battle back in the second, holding serve in the first game and taking a love-30 lead on Bradley’s serve in the second. But Bradley came back with an ace and opened up a 40-30 lead before taking the game to stay on serve, and he eventually rolled to the straight-set victory.
“That was a big game,” he said. “That could have been a momentum changer for him. Instead I came out and broke him in the next game.”
Bradley moves on to face Moorestown’s Dickerson for the chance to play for the state title.
“He has a similar style [to Chen],” Bradley said. “I just have to go out like today and trust that my game is better than his.”
Rangga saw his breakout season end at the hands of Lin, but came away knowing that he had taken a huge step up as a tennis player this season.
“I never expected to get this far,” said the junior, who won his first Passaic County title and advanced past the third round of the state tournament for the first time. “Next year I know I can do better. I’ll be more confident.”
Wright, who twice took Bradley to three sets this season, opened his match against Zheng by breaking his serve to take a 1-0 lead. But Zheng’s deep ground strokes kept the Rebels junior on the defensive as he came back for the 6-4, 6-2 victory.
“He was just so persistent and aggressive,” Wright said of Zheng. “Still, I’m very happy with what I did this year. I feel like I exceeded my expectations and didn’t leave anything behind.”