VINELAND — Middle Township High School senior twins Jeremy and Zack Novick have shared many accomplishments in their 18 years together.
Add a Cape-Atlantic League individual singles title to the list.
Jeremy Novick, the Panthers’ No. 1 singles player, defeated Vineland senior Rahi Patel 6-0, 6-1 on Thursday at Vineland High School.
Zack Novick was the defending champion and the first Middle player to win a CAL singles title in program history.
“It felt good to win,” said Jeremy, 18, of Cape May Court House. “It was kind of vengeance for my brother (in Wednesday’s semifinal). (Patel) beat him in three sets, so I really came out fighting hard. I didn’t want to give him anything. I just wanted to play as tough as I could and never let up. And I didn’t really ever let up in the match.”
Novick, who improved to 16-1 this season, controlled the match from the start. He held serve and went up 1-0 and defended well to take a 2-0 lead.
He carried that to a shutout victory in the first set, which included six winners. His serve was sharp and he worked Patel along the baseline.
“He played flawless,” Middle coach Matt Gilbert said. “He was incredible, probably the best I’ve seen him play all season. He was energized for this match today.”
Patel (12-7) was coming off three straight 3-set matches en route to the final. He buckled down in the first game of the second set, which lasted nearly five minutes, but Novick battled deuce after deuce to finally take game one.
After that it seemed as though Novick couldn’t be stopped, until Patel took game five of the second set to avoid a shutout. Novick broke Patel to go up 5-1 and won four straight points, including three winners, to take the title.
“He came out to play,” said Patel, 18. “I didn’t have as much energy as I did in previous days, but he was just playing really well and that was the bottom line. It would have been great to win, but even being a finalist is amazing. Nobody likes to get the second-place trophy, but it is a trophy. Only two people in the whole tournament get one, and it’s a token of the hard work I’ve put in.”
Novick thanked Gilbert and fellow coaches Homer Pangilinan and Dave Okun along with his parents, Scott and Sandra, and brothers, Joel and Zack, for all of his success.
“This accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without everyone that’s helped me along the way,” he said.
In the doubles final, Vineland’s first team of Darren Tomasso and Nick Mayo defeated Hammonton’s Stevie Salvatore and Dave Donio-Enscoe 6-3, 6-4. Tomasso, a senior, and Mayo, a junior, are the first Fighting Clan duo to win since Jay Roth and Tim Dovnarsky in 2007. Thursday’s finalists had split two earlier meetings.
The Blue Devils’ tandem made it 4-4 in the second set, but Mayo said the familiarity helped him and Tomasso win the final two games and the match. They celebrated in front of a group of Vineland fans.
“It means a lot, especially since we host it here at home,” said Mayo, 16, from Vineland. “And it just means that much more to win it on our home court and bring something back for our school. It’s even better when you have a partner to share it with. We just feed off of each other’s energy.”
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