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Middle dominates, checks into 7th straight into South Jersey final

The members of the Middle Township High School boys tennis team are all smiles after Friday’s victory over Collingswood in a South Jersey Group I semifinal match. Middle will play for the sectional championship on Tuesday.

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — There was some bulletin-board material the Middle Township High School boys tennis team had a chance to use for motivation Friday morning.

The Panthers, the second seed in the South Jersey Group I Tournament, were predicted to lose to No. 3 Collingswood in the sectional semifinal match by a media outlet that covers high school sports across the state.

Middle made sure that prediction turned out to be colossally incorrect.

Middle won all five positions in straight sets to post a 5-0 victory and breeze into its seventh straight sectional championship match.

Xander Hardin (first), Justin Wen (second) and Shane Kern (third) each won singles matches, while the doubles teams of Steve Berrodin-Will Casterline (first) and Simon Hardin-Markos Sakoulas (second) were also victorious for Middle (20-1).

Middle’s players dropped just 17 out of 77 games in the match combined en route to the easy victory,

Middle will travel to No. 1 Haddon Township for the South Jersey title match on Tuesday. Haddon Township beat No. 5 Pitman in Friday’s other semifinal match.

The Middle-Collingswood match was held early in the day (10 a.m. start) in order to help Collingswood’s travel against Memorial Day weekend traffic and in an effort to complete the match before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

Middle will be bidding for its fourth South Jersey title in the last seven years. The Panthers won sectional crowns in 2016, 2018 and 2019. The program’s only previous South Jersey championship came in the late 1970s.