Contributed by Joe Iwanksi, D-E Boys' Varsity Tennis Coach
On Saturday April 7 D-E Boys' Tennis played in the 25th annual Bryan Bennett Memorial (BBM) Tennis Tournament, run by the Delbarton School and considered the toughest and most prestigious event of the tennis season. This year's 12-team draw included 10 of the teams ranked in the top 13 in the state. In their first match on Saturday morning, the Bulldogs, who entered the tournament ranked #5 in NJ, bested #13 Holmdel in a tight 3-2 match that featured wins from seniors Brandon Grill '18 and co-captain Shanay Amin '18 at 2nd and 3rd singles, along with a decisive win at 2nd doubles from the junior tandem of Tejas Akula '19 and Cameron Janssens '19.
Later that day, in matches that extended into early evening, the team took on #4 ranked perennial powerhouse Westfield. Inspired by an incredible come-from-behind win at 1st singles by senior co-captain Daniel Nuzhny '18, playing injured, the team pulled off the upset of the tournament and took the match 3-2. This moved them into Sunday morning's semifinal, where they faced off against #1 ranked and defending state champion Montgomery. In an epic team match, the Bulldogs were led by Brandon Grill's superb win at first singles playing for injured teammate Dan Nuzhny, the match was tied at 2 apiece with second doubles tandem of Tejas Akula and sophomore Sascha Ghobadi '20 down 2-5 in the deciding 3rd set. Akula and Ghobadi somehow rallied to take the lead 6-5, and were two points from closing out the match and huge upset, but the Montgomery pair found their bearings and took the match in a gripping tiebreaker, giving Montgomery a 3-2 decision.
While the team was understandably disappointed, they were recognized by the tournament committee with the annual Sportsmanship Award, given to that team which best demonstrates the qualities of sportsmanship and gentlemanly behavior throughout the tournament.
The photo here shows senior co-captain Daniel Nuzhny holding their award plaque with the entire team, coaches, and BBM tournament director John Thompson of Delbarton.