With 77 career wins and back-to-back South Jersey Times Player of the Year awards on his résumé, Anuj Patel has already left his mark on the Vineland boys tennis program. But there is one more goal he wants to accomplish before he graduates, and it will be pushing him throughout the off-season.
“For the most part, I’m happy with my season,” said Patel, who went 27-6 this spring as a junior. “I had a pretty decent record, but my only disappointment was losing in the (Cape-Atlantic League) final for the second time. I’m going to work a lot harder this off-season, because I definitely want to win the CAL title.”
Patel did repeat as the Cumberland County champion with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Millville’s Manuel Melendez, leading Vineland to the team crown. He also advanced to the round of 16 at the South Jersey Interscholastic Championships and notched impressive regular-season wins over Andrew Lin of Moorestown Friends and Mike Giunta of St. Augustine.
But he hopes to be more competitive next year against Mainland’s Nik Kilibarda, who handed him three of his losses. Patel defeated Kilibarda in the regular season last year but has dropped the CAL final to his rival each of the past two seasons.
Patel, who started playing the sport at age 7, knows that next season could be his last of competitive tennis. He hopes to attend the University of Pennsylvania and is leaning toward studying engineering.