It was cool and windy, but Ravi Yegya-Raman had fire in his eyes to keep him warm.
"I was definitely motivated," Yegya-Raman said after leading the Cherry Hill East boys' tennis team to a 5-0 victory over Lenape yesterday in the South Jersey Group 4 championship match at Cherokee.
In a rematch of what probably was the best singles match in South Jersey this season, Yegya-Raman beat Nikola Kocovic, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 1 singles to help Cherry Hill East to its 32d sectional championship, including its 20th in the last 22 years.
Cherry Hill East (21-2) advanced to Thursday morning's state semifinals at Mercer County Park. A victory would send the Cougars into Thursday afternoon's state finals.
Kocovic, a highly touted sophomore, had taken Yegya-Raman to three taxing sets before losing by 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) during a May 14 regular-season match between the Olympic Conference rivals.
"Ravi was extra motivated," said Ross Silverberg, Cherry Hill East's No. 2 singles, who defeated Lenape's Mike Humes, 6-0, 6-2. "He wanted revenge."
Yegya-Raman, a senior who won the state individual title last year, wouldn't go quite that far. But he acknowledged that the match had some added significance after Kocovic became the first player this season to win a set against him.
"He played great that day," Yegya-Raman said. "I can't take anything away from him. But I knew I could play better, and I wanted to prove that."
Cherry Hill East coach Ralph Ipri, who began his career in 1965, said the May 14 match between Yegya-Raman and Kocovic was "the best high school match I've ever seen."
Yegya-Raman took immediate command of the rematch. Using a strong serve-and-volley attack, he swept the first set.
Kocovic, whose only losses were to Yegya-Raman and an injury default in Saturday's South Jersey Invitational, suffered a sprained left ankle while trailing by 5-0 in the first set and needed assistance from the Cherokee training staff. He battled through the second set but couldn't match Yegya-Raman's torrid pace.
Cherry Hill East 5, Lenape 0
Ravi Yegya-Raman def. Nikola Kocovic, 6-0, 6-3; Ross Silverberg def. Mike Humes, 6-0, 6-2; Nikhil Yegya-Raman def. Marc Regvard, 6-0, 6-0; Max Rubin and David Bernstein def. Bill Blatchley and Jon Porco, 6-2, 6-0; Dan Kim and Jon Chalik def. Greg Serba and Brian Chang, 6-2, 6-0.
South Jersey Non-Public A.
Bill Horace played on a sectional championship team for the fourth straight year and celebrated the event by winning his 100th career match as
, 4-1, at Monsignor Donovan.
Horace beat Kyle Connor, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, at second singles as the defending state champion Hermits (22-1) swept the singles matches.
South Jersey Group 3.
With a 4-1 victory over
in the final at Mercer County Park,
(26-5) captured its 31st sectional championship in the last 32 years.
Gabe Allen's best match of the season, said Quakers' coach Bill Kingston, ended in a 6-1, 6-1 win at first singles.
South Jersey Group 2.
Matt Chalkley and Brian Oatway won a 7-2 first-set tiebreaker on their way to a 7-6, 6-3 win at first doubles, aiding 29-3
's 4-1 victory over
in the title match at Vineland.
South Jersey Group 1.
's bid for a South Jersey crown fell short with a 3-2 title loss to
Point Pleasant Beach