PHOTO BY ANNE MARIE TOBIN
Lynnfield tennis team captains and coach displaying their Division 3 North championship trophy, left to right, Katie Nevils, Sarah Mezini, Craig Stone, Camie Foley, Katie Nugent.
By ANNE MARIE TOBIN
BEVERLY — The Lynnfield girls tennis team steamrolled its way to a fourth straight Division 3 North title yesterday with a 5-0 win over a young Austin Prep team at Beverly High.
With the win, the Pioneers advance to Monday state semifinals at Lexington against the winner of the match between south top seed and two-time defending state champion, Martha’s Vineyard, and No. 7 Ursuline Academy. That match is scheduled to be played today at 2:30 at Medway High.
This one was about as lopsided as it could get, with the Pioneers clinching the match in about 45 minutes with a singles sweep, then added another point with a win at second doubles about seven minutes later.
Senior captain Camie Foley delivered the title clinching point with a 6-0, 6-1 win at second singles over sophomore Silvanna Salines.
“Today the singles players were basically able to take care of business,” said Lynnfield coach Craig Stone. “Second doubles didn’t have much of an issue but first doubles struggled a little bit returning serves but that was a decent first doubles team for Austin Prep.”
The only competitive match was the first doubles match referred to by Stone. The match was a marathon and a real toss-up, lasting more than two hours and needing two tiebreakers before the Lynnfield duo of senior captain Katie Nugent and sophomore Alexa Vittiglio finally prevailed, 7-6, 7-6 over freshmen Mia Han and Jenna Costello. They won the first set tiebreaker 7-1, then followed with a 7-4 win in the second set tiebreaker.
While the match had been clinched more than an hour before, Stone said it was important to close things out and get the win.
“Here everybody was able to come up with a “W” and its a nice way to finish the sectionals,” said Stone. “They (Nugent/Vittiglio) need to be in competitive situations like that and they have been this year and have shown they can handle the pressure.
I think that three-set loss to Manchester-Essex that Alexa had caused her to buckle down a little today and she and Katie were able to keep their composure under stress.”
Senior captain Sarah Mezini got things started with a 6-1, 6-0 win over sophomore Marie-Elena Gerety in a match that took less than 40 minutes to play. A couple of minutes later, senior captain Katie Nevils made it 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-1 win over freshman Olivia Caruso in the third singles match.
Barely a minute later, Foley completed the singles sweep with her win over Salines.
Seniors Laura Mucci and Allison Carey made it 4-0 with a solid 6-1, 6-3 win over juniors Jackie Chouinard and Danielle Abdennour.
“We had a little more energy today and played more consistently,” said Mucci.
Carey said the key was dictating the pace of play and an improved net game.
“We worked yesterday on trying to hit good, harder volleys, and it paid off,” she said. “We definitely controlled the pace and played a more upbeat style, which better suits our style.”
Lynnfield was making its 24th appearance in a sectional final (and 35th straight tournament appearance.) Yesterday’s title was the 14th under coach Stone, now in his 37th season coaching the team, who improved his career record to 584-86 with the win. Combined with wrestling, Stone now has 1,112 career wins.
Lynnfield’s seniors are used to winning. As freshmen, they won the program’s fifth state championship, while over four years, they have compiled a record of 79-4.
“These seniors have four sectional and one state title,” said Stone. “Of the losses, two came to Manchester during the regular season and two came to Martha’s Vineyard at the north-south (state semi-finals) match. “It’s pretty remarkable over a four year stretch.”