By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — It’s rare that a high school sports team can reach all of its preseason goals.
The Middle Township boys tennis team did just that Monday afternoon.
The Panthers secured their second South Jersey Group I title in three seasons, the top-seeded Panthers dispatching Woodstown, 4-1, in front of a rather large crowd on their home court.
First singles player Max Gilbert, a freshman and the son of head coach Matt Gilbert, clinched the victory when he picked up Middle’s third point with a 6-1, 6-1, decision over Woodstown’s Cole Patti.
That came after Middle senior Rob Giulian breezed through his second singles match for a 6-0, 6-1 win, over Jason Petrin, followed by a 6-2, 6-3 victory by Middle’s first double team of Brayden Carr and Tathya Modi.
The victory also avenged a loss to the Wolverines in last year’s sectional semifinal round.
“We wanted the No. 1 seed and we got that, we wanted to win the (Cape-Atlantic League) championship and we got that, we wanted home court (advantage) and we got that and we wanted South Jersey and we got that,” Giulian said. “This means the world to us. We had planned for this ever since we lost to Woodstown last year in the South Jersey semifinals. Everything leading up to this was to get here and win it. I’m so happy it’s indescribable.”
Middle got its other point from junior Teran Broadnax, who took the third singles match in a super tiebreaker over Luca Donnini, 6-4, 5-7 (11-9). Broadnax rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win the first set and scored four straight points at the finish to win the super tiebreaker after trailing 9-7.
Second-seeded Woodstown secured its only point with a straight-set win at second doubles.
Middle improved to 23-0 with the win. The Panthers will face Highland Park in the state semifinal on Wednesday. Highland Park beat Shore Regional, 5-0, in the Central Jersey Group I title match.