PHOTO BY ANNE MARIE TOBIN
Sarah Mezini and the Pioneers defeated Austin Prep in the Division 3 North final.
By STEVE KRAUSE
BEVERLY — Sarah Mezini was pretty happy that her 6-1, 6-0 victory over Austin Prep’s Marie-Elena Gerety Friday was as stress free as it was. It makes up for the nail biter that was Wednesday’s victory over Chanel Bullock of Manchester Essex.
Friday, Mezini was one of three Lynnfield singles players who made short order of the Cougar opponents in the Pioneers’ 5-0 Division 3 North final win over Austin Prep. Mezini was the first one off the court, in fact.
That wasn’t the case Wednesday. Tennis — at least the way they play it in high school — might be a team sport, but it has its individual side to it. All five matches go on at once, so unless you’re focusing on one of them, it’s difficult to really get a read on who’s doing what, and when.
But against Manchester-Essex, everybody knew what was going on. Mezini and Bullock were engaged in a monumental first-singles struggle, and Mezini was in danger of losing it. Not only that, the horses had already returned to the barn long before their match was over, and the score was at 2-1. It was all on the line.
“That was an intense match,” said Mezini in a comment of great understatement. “Chanel is a great player. She almost had me twice at the end of the second set.”
That would have been disastrous for Mezini because Bullock had already won the first set. A loss would have ended the match for Lynnfield and giving the nod to the Hornets for the right to play Austin Prep Friday.
But Mezini, who will be going to UMass Amherst in the fall, bounced off the mat, won the tiebreaker, and rolled to a 6-4 third-set win to allow her team to play another day.
And thanks to Friday’s win, the Pioneers will play another day after that, too — Monday, to be specific, at 3:30 at Lexington High in the state semifinal. Martha’s Vineyard was to play Ursuline today in the D3 South final.
Mezini was still talking about the match with Bullock after Friday’s win over Gerety.
“There was a big crowd watching that match,” she said. “She (Bullock) will be one of the best players in the state next year.
“She has a completely different style of playing that mine,” Mezini said. “I like to go for the points and pounce on the ball. She’s more patient, and plays longer volleys.”
She said she tried not to think about the pressure.
“Once everything else was over, it was just a matter of playing and going point by point,” she said.
Mezini has been playing tennis since she was 6 year old.
“We had tennis courts in front of my house, and one day my dad (Erler Mezini) asked me if I wanted to go over to the park and play.
“I guess I showed some talent for it right away,” she said. “I could hit the ball. It just grew out of that.”
And while Mezini has had formal training, “for the most part, my coach has always been my dad.”
She burst on the scene as a freshman at Lynnfield High, which is the last time the Pioneers won a state championship.
“Things kind of came together for me that year,” she said.
Now, she stands poised to help the Pioneers make another run. After that, it’s onto Amherst and more tennis. Her summer will be taken up with the sport.
“Training in the morning and practicing in the afternoons,” she said. “That’s pretty much how it plays out. It’ll be like that in college too. I think about it sometimes, about how I’m going to fit it all in, but I love it. I can’t wait.
“If I could make the beach my passion, then the beach would be my passion,” she said, answering a question about doesn’t she miss lazy summer days down by the shore. “But tennis is my passion.”