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Lenape takes sectional in tennis

It was a rare moment in the spotlight for a second doubles team, and Kevin Lauria and Mike Sha took full advantage.

It was a rare moment in the spotlight for a second doubles team, and Kevin Lauria and Mike Sha took full advantage.

The Lenape juniors won in three sets to clinch a 4-1 victory over Cherry Hill East in the South Jersey Group 4 championship match Tuesday.

"We wanted to show that Lenape doubles can step up," Sha said. "We wanted to show that we don't only rely on singles."

Singles players Nikola Kocovic, Mike Humes and Mike Perrone also won for Lenape, which captured its second consecutive sectional title. Both came with victories over Olympic American rival Cherry Hill East in the championship match.

Lenape (20-2), the No. 2 team in The Inquirer Super Six, advanced to Thursday's state semifinals at Mercer County Park.

The first doubles team of Justin Elfman and Alex Feldman won for Cherry Hill East (19-4), the No. 3 team in the poll. All four of the Cougars' losses have been to the Indians.

Tuesday's championship match might have been the most competitive of the teams' four meetings. Although Kocovic and Perrone won by fairly comfortable scores, Humes needed two tiebreakers to defeat Nikhil Yegya-Raman, and Lauria and Sha went through three grueling sets against Andrew Wynne and Jared Kaufman.

"It was tough," Lauria said. "We came out strong in the first set, but they came back. We played East four times this season, and I think in all four matches the second doubles has gone to three sets."

Undefeated Kocovic beat Max Rubin for the fourth time this season in a high-level match in which both players had vocal cheering sections.

"I was really relaxed," Kocovic said. "I just came back from the Shore for prom weekend, so I knew I was going to have a good day."

Lenape was ahead, 2-1, and most of the players, coaches and fans were gathered near the second-doubles competition for the final moments of the third set, as the Humes vs. Yegya-Raman match wasn't close to completion.

The Lenape pair battled back from an early deficit in the set and secured the victory on Sha's winner.

"We had to regroup after that second set," Sha said. "We came back with a lot more focus in the third set."

Lenape 4, Cherry Hill East 1

Nikola Kocovic, L, d. Max Rubin, 6-2, 6-2; Mike Humes, L, d. Nikhil Yegya-Raman, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3); Mike Perrone, L, d. Mike Davis, 6-0, 6-3; Justin Elfman and Alex Feldman, CHE, d. Marc Reynaud and Dan Sha, 7-5, 6-3; Kevin Lauria and Mike Sha, L, d. Andrew Wynne and Jared Kaufman, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.