The Sparta High School boys tennis team never backed down from even the toughest competition this season.
That positive attitude paid off as the Spartans finished with a winning record of 12-9.
“Sparta boys tennis had a successful season in one of the most competitive divisions in New Jersey: the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) American Division,’’ head coach Michael Wille said.
“Although we struggled competing against the likes of Delbarton, Mendham, Chatham and Montville, who were all top 10 teams in the state, we were able to beat the opponents we faced throughout the rest of the season and made a pretty good run in the state team tournament.”
Among the highlights of the season was winning the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament for the first time in school history “by advancing every position to the finals and winning four of the five finals championships,” Wille said.
“In team States, we went three rounds to the semifinals in the North 1 Group 2 (sectional tournament) and lost a very close match to Old Tappan.’’
The senior captains helped propel the Spartans.
“Thomas Schottland and Robbie Matkiwsky were keys to our successful record,’’ the coach said. “Thomas was the first singles player for the last three years, with Covid season being erased as the fourth year. He won MVP two times in the H/W/S and this year did not give up a single game on his route to first singles champion.
“Thomas also competed against the best singles players in the NJSIAA Tournament the last three years where he finished in the top 30 for his first two seasons and then broke into the top 16 players in New Jersey this year.’’
Matkiwsky overcame adversity to continually improve as a tennis player, Wille said.
“We were plagued with injuries during the middle of the season to two different players, but we were able to substitute in other players who stepped up to continue winning the matches we could.
“Robbie Matkiwsky, as second singles, was one of those injured players who was able to rest and recover to become the most improved player on the team. At times, Robbie was as good as Thomas at first singles, making Sparta a formidable opponent at the first and second singles positions.’’
Sparta topped Vernon in the first round and River Dell in the quarterfinal round before losing, 3-2, to Old Tappan in the sectional semifinal round.
“Next year, Sparta will be rebuilding and hoping to compete in a tough division with some young talent,’’ Wille said. “We have two juniors returning with experience and skill in Drew Young and Charlie Canzoniero.
“Also, we had two freshmen who proved worthy in the varsity lineup in both singles and doubles. Both Ian Yip and Graham Mahoney will be the future that Sparta plans to build around. All in all, it was a rewarding and satisfying season in competitive north New Jersey tennis.’’
Next year, Sparta will be rebuilding and hoping to compete in a tough division with some young talent.” - Michael Wille, boys tennis head coach, Sparta High School