NORTH READING — They may not have kept a team score, but it was pretty hard to deny that the Lynnfield boys tennis team was the class of the league at the annual Cape Ann League Open last Saturday at North Reading High School.
The Pioneers played their way into four of final championship matches, winning three of them, to turn in the best performance by any of the participating teams. All told, the Pioneers lost only two matches all day.
“This was a big day for us in many ways,” said coach Joe Dunn, Sr. “It is a great opportunity to scout the league for future matches and I was pleased that the kids are all playing at their best. In this tournament, everyone is trying to show off their best.”
Michael Gentile and Lorenzo Russo got the party started, with a come-from behind 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Pentucket’s Min Bachrach and Liam McDonough.
“We played smart tennis and got into a steady rhythm, which put us in a position to capitalize on their weaknesses,” sad Russo. “We tried to force them to play from the baseline, and that seemed to work. We also got a chance to see our future enemies and if we keep playing like this we are going to have a very productive season.”
Arlex Correa, who was runner-up at second singles last year, took the second singles title with a 6-4, 6-0 win over top-seeded Austin Pzenny of Ipswich.
“I was calm and kept my focus and was thinking out my points and planning ahead and just trying to get into his head, and that was enough to break him,” said Correa. “I remembered last year that he was a good net player, so I tried to keep him back and finish the points.”
Colin Lamusta successfully defended his 2017 title at third singles, defeating Amesbury’s Alex Pucillo 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in a second set tiebreaker.
Sean Murray and Jamil Khodr came up short in their quest to take the second doubles title, losing to Masconomet’s Marshall Lases and Jake Wogan 1-6, 2-6.
“This was the first time they (Murray/Khodr) had played together and the mistakes that they made came against a team that hit very big shots, which changed their style of game and that threw them off,” said Dunn.
At first singles, Max Rothermund opened strong with an 8-0 win over Haola Zhan of Masconomet, but ran into a buzz saw in top-seeded Matt Nardone of Amesbury, who eliminated Rothermund in the semis, 8-0.
All told, the Pioneers felt that the day was a success beyond just winning three titles.
“We saw some great talent today and got a chance to see our future enemies and I feel if we keep playing like this we are going to have a very, very productive season,” said Russo. “Coach (Dunn) knows what he is doing out there.”
Lamusta said, so far, he detects that the team has a different dynamic compared to past seasons.
“We have all improved but are still at the same levels in terms of position, so that gives us the freedom, depending on how we see the other team, to move myself or Lorenzo to doubles, so we have great flexibility to stack our cards in the places we want,” he said.