NORTH READING — The Lynnfield girls tennis team gave it its best shot, but unfortunately for the Pioneers, Manchester-Essex was just that much better.
Yesterday at North Reading High School, the No. 6 Pioneers came up short in their quest for a fifth straight Division 3 North championship, losing to the No. 1 Hornets, 5-0.
Nonetheless, Lynnfield coach Craig Stone came away from the match on a positive note.
“Number one, we win just by being here, considering what the girls accomplished by getting to another final,” Stone said. “And number two, I consider it a win because of the improvement we showed from the first time we played them. We knew with the talent that Manchester-Essex has that it would be a tough challenge no matter what with their first and second singles players now playing first doubles. That shows how deep their talent really is with their top two players who have not lost all year long and are ranked USTA players.”
The Hornets’ top player, Olivia Mariotti, didn’t need much time in staking the Hornets to a quick 1-0 lead, defeating freshman Megan Nevils, 6-0, 6-0, who was still less than 100 percent with tendinitis in her right wrist.
Stephanie Pratt defeated junior captain Alexa Vittiglio at second singles, 6-2, 6-2, while Gillian Skelley and Emma Gallucci went down at first doubles, 6-1, 6-2 and Celeste Joly and Claire Yang went down at second doubles, 6-3, 6-0.
The longest match of the day was fittingly between Bela Ferreira, the Pioneer’s sole senior starter, and Bridget Miller, who pulled away to a 6-3, 6-4 win to close out the day.
“She (Ferreira) was definitely our senior surprise this year.” said Stone. “She showed up and we didn’t realize she was as talented as she was. Now, we need to know we can achieve at this level and use it as added motivation and come back next year as better players because I tell them all the time the better they are as individual players, the better we are as a team.”
Lynnfield finished the season 17-5 while the Hornets move on to play the winner of today’s match between Cohasset and Ursuline.