Montclair High School Boys Tennis Series Ends in State Section Finals


Montclair High School boys tennis head coach Guy Rabner (sunglasses) gives his team a pep talk before the North 1 Group 4 state sectional semifinals in Ridgewood. Unfortunately for the Mounties, they lost a 3-2 verdict to Ridgewood to end the season. Montclair finished with an 11-11 record and reached both the Essex County and state tournament semifinals. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

High school teams can’t afford to have an off day at the state tournament, because it could end their season. Unfortunately, the Montclair High School boys tennis team had an off day at the North 1 Group 4 state sectional semifinals.

The Mounties were looking to reach the state finals for the eighth straight season. They had lost to Bergen Tech in the finals the past three seasons. They also needed to beat Ridgewood to advance this year.

Unfortunately, not all the Mounties had that game. You have to advance to the state tournament with a team dominated by seniors.

Montclair High School senior Trent Tauber was named to the All-Super Essex Conference Second Team. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Montclair suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Maroons in late May, seeing their 2024 season come to an unceremonious end. Ridgewood defeated Montclair’s Essex County rival Livingston 4-1 to win the state title. The Mounties had defeated Livingston two out of three times during the season. They defeated the Lancers 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Essex County Tournament.

Mounties Boys Tennis still reaches semi-finals

Despite missing out on the state championship, Mounties head coach Guy Rabner was pleased with the results. They included an overall record of 11-11 in one of the best divisions in the state, the Super Essex Conference American Division. Montclair also reached the semifinals of the Essex County Tournament, but lost to eventual county winner Newark Academy (5-0).

“You always want to do more. But I was really happy that the kids competed all year with some great wins and came so close to other wins,” Rabner said.

He added that it was a long day for his doubles teams: senior Teddy Ogden and senior Matthew Vincenti in first doubles and freshman Alfred Lonntorp and freshman Jack Levine in second doubles. Both doubles teams lost in two straight sets, the Ogden-Vincenti duo losing 6-2, 6-1 and Lonntorp-Levine losing 6-3, 6-3.

“We wanted to win states, that was the goal, but the difference with Ridgewood was just that our doubles wasn’t good that day, and Max (Gofton), who played a good match, just got a little bit outclassed in the third-set tiebreaker,” Rabner said.

Montclair senior Tylan Ozkuzey, seen here in the state sectional semifinal against Ridgewood, was named to the All-Group 4 second team and All-Super Essex Conference American Division first team. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Gofton lost to Benjamin Caradonna of Ridgewood, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6). Caradonna had not lost a match in the third singles, second singles and first doubles in the entire 2024 season until the Group 4 semifinal against Westfield.

Montclair ’24 Boys Tennis is about ‘unity’

Rabner indicated that unity in the team is key this season, with a squad dominated by seniors and led by Tylan Ozkuzey and Trent Tauber.

“A great group of seniors that all got along great, like a family,” Rabner said. “They also made the younger kids feel at home and were great role models. A lot of fun to coach. And also their competitiveness. And also the senior leadership of Tylan and Trent. They’re great examples of players that have improved tremendously. Their consistency kept us in a lot of games this year.”

Montclair senior Teddy Ogden was named to the All-Super Essex Conference American Division honorable mention list. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

One of the biggest holes to fill is first singles senior Tyler Ozkuzey, who was named to the All Group 4 second team and All-SEC American first team. Ozkuzey lost just five matches all season. Three of the five were All-State first-team tennis players from Newark Academy, Josh Mandelbaum (twice) and Andrew Kutzen. Ozkuzey also reached the state individual quarterfinals this season after reaching the state individual semifinals last year. The now-graduated senior will continue his tennis exploits at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine).

Ozkyzey, one of the best on the field

“Tylan should go down as one of the most decorated and best players in the history of Montclair High School tennis,” Rabner said. “He went from being a very good player as a freshman to even better as a sophomore and then became great the last two years, one of the top 10 players in the state, as he proved by reaching the semifinals last year and the quarterfinals this year in the individual state tournament.”

At the individual state tournament in June, Ozkyzey lost to Ridge’s Archit Yemula 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the quarterfinals at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.

“If he hadn’t had to play six hours the day before in his previous two rounds, I think he would have had a chance to go all the way this year,” Rabner said. “That’s life. He still played super tight against the number two (in the state) (Yemula), even though he couldn’t move either. He improved his movement, his mental game and his confidence tremendously.”

Montclair senior Max Goffin was named to the All-Super Essex Conference American Division honorable mention list. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)

Along with Ozkyzey, seniors Trent Tauber, Max Gofton and Teddy Ogden were named to the All-SEC American Division honors team. Tauber was named to the second team, while Gofton and Ogden were named to the honorable mention list.

Tauber was solid in second singles, battling one of the best players in the state. Andrew Zielinski of Newark Academy reached the state quarterfinals. On May 9, he lost to Zielinski, 6-0, 6-7 (4-7), 1-0 (10-4).

“His confidence and his competitiveness,” Rabner said of Tauber’s best aspects. “He took a set from a player (Zielinski) who also reached the state tournament quarterfinals. He believed he could beat the best players he played. I’m going to miss his drive.”

Gofton was also solid at third singles, and Montclair’s head coach pointed out what he’s improved this season. “(He) reduced his errors, improved his serve percentage, reduced his double faults and generally increased his hitting a little bit,” Rabner added.

For most of the season, Ogden worked with two Montclair players, Vincenti and Max Korenbaum, in first doubles. In first doubles, he mirrored the team’s performance with a .500 (9-9) record. Ogden, like the Mounties, faced the best doubles teams in the state. “(He was a) great competitor,” said Rabner, a passionate player. “Solid play with a drive to win.”


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *