It was late March when Nikola Kocovic looked ahead to his senior tennis season at Lenape. He set one goal: A state team title for the Indians.
It was late May when Kocovic reflected back on a team season that ended with a 3-2 loss to North Jersey power Westfield in the Group 4 state finals. "It was disappointing, but we still had a great season," said Kocovic, the South Jersey tennis player of the year for the second season in a row. "I was proud of everybody on the team."
Kocovic always regarded his final season as a high school player in team terms. He said that before a preseason scrimmage against Rancocas Valley in late March, and emphasized it during the course of the Indians' drive to their second consecutive South Jersey Group 4 title.
As an individual player, Kocovic has been flawless this season. The University of Pennsylvania-bound athlete has a 35-0 record entering Tuesday's quarterfinal round of the state singles tournament. He has a 124-7 career mark.
But Lenape coach Tony Guerrera has said for two seasons that Kocovic's greatest contributions to the Indians have been his leadership and team-first attitude.
"For me, he is irreplaceable," Guerrera said. "You may get one kid like Nik your entire coaching career. He will go down as the greatest player in Lenape tennis history and on the short list of the top players in South Jersey tennis history.
"He leads by example, on and off the court. He is the model for composure, confidence, and character."