ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Lynnfield first singles player Sarah Mezini reacts after a shot goes long.
By KATIE MORRISON
LEXINGTON — For the fourth year in a row, the Lynnfield girls tennis team got the chance to compete for a state championship after winning the Division 3 North title.
For the third year in a row, it was Martha’s Vineyard that stood between the Pioneers and a chance to play in the state final.
And for the third year in a row, the Vineyarders ended Lynnfield’s season.
This time, the Martha’s Vineyard deep and talented lineup was just too much for the Pioneers to compete with, as Lynnfield was swept, 5-0, in the Division 3 state semifinal at Lexington High.
“I have no doubt in my mind that each one of them gave no less than 110 percent,” Lynnfield coach Craig Stone said. “It’s just a circumstance where we met a deeper, more talented team.”
There were a couple of battles, but the Pioneers didn’t win a set. At first singles, UMass Amherst commit Sarah Mezini hung with Martha’s Vineyard’s Kat Roberts through the first set, as Roberts won, 6-4. But as the other Pioneers matches wrapped up and the Vineyarders clinched the win, Roberts took control of the second set. Initially Mezini kept it close at 2-1, but Roberts took the final four games to finish the sweep.
Over at second singles, Lynnfield’s Camie Foley had her work cut out for her against Kelly Klaren, who took both sets, 6-0, 6-0, while Rebecca Scott bested Katie Nevils at third singles, 6-0, 6-1.
“I knew what Vineyard was returning, I knew what we had,” Stone said. “I knew Sarah would have a match at one (first singles), and I thought Katie would be okay at three, but they broke up their first doubles team and sent Scott to singles.
“Scott and (Lizzie) Williamson (who played at first doubles) last year were the doubles champs. So I knew Katie would have trouble.”
At doubles, the team of Williamson and Hannah Rabasca topped Katie Nugent and Alexa Vittiglio, 6-1, 6-2. One of the most competitive matches of the day was at second doubles, with Allison Carey and Laura Mucci battling against twins Paige and Molly Logue but falling, 6-1, 6-3.
“First doubles would have had to play the match of their lives, but over at second doubles, they hung in there,” Stone said.
“They’re not a bang-bang team, they have to mix it up and throw in some lobs, drive some balls, create some switches, that kind of thing,” Stone said of Mucci and Carey, who started at first doubles but shifted three quarters of the way through the season. “It was nice for them to have a competitive day today. I told everyone that came off the court, there’s nothing to hang your heads about, you do the best you can. That’s all you can ask for.”
With six of seven starters graduating (Vittiglio, a junior, is the sole exception), Stone will have to say goodbye to four-year starters Mezini and Nevils, as well as four-year players Carey, Foley and Nugent. Add in Mucci’s three years of experience, and it’s a tough group to see leave.
“You add it up, that’s 23 seasons of experience right there that they’ve been around and contributing one way or another, on the court and off the court,” Stone said. “It’s a nice maturation you like to see in sports, seeing people put in their time, pay their dues and then are rewarded with their time in the spotlight. You can’t go wrong with that, that’s what it’s all about, that’s success in itself.”
Over the past four years, Lynnfield has won one state title (2014), four sectional championships and Cape Ann League titles along the way.
“We’ve won four sectional finals with this crew, and they finish 79-5 record overall,” Stone said. “The nice thing about it, too, is with the exception of Sarah and Katie Nevils, our lineup changed over the years, with players graduating and others moving into more important roles.
“For the kids to hang around and wait for their opportunity, and to play at this arena in front of this crowd, and still earning a sectional championship, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”