Dynastic LHS netwomen take fourth North title

Jun 15, 2017 by

Published in the June 14, 2017 edition

THE GIRLS’ TENNIS TEAM won its fourth straight Division 3 North sectional championship after defeating Austin Prep 5-0 at Beverly High School June 9. Proudly displaying the sectional trophy are, from left, head coach Craig Stone, sophomore Alexa Vittiglio, senior Laura Mucci, senior captain Katie Nevils, senior captain Sarah Mezini, senior captain Camie Foley, senior captain Katie Nugent and senior Allison Carey. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

THE GIRLS’ TENNIS TEAM won its fourth straight Division 3 North sectional championship after defeating Austin Prep 5-0 at Beverly High School June 9. Proudly displaying the sectional trophy are, from left, head coach Craig Stone, sophomore Alexa Vittiglio, senior Laura Mucci, senior captain Katie Nevils, senior captain Sarah Mezini, senior captain Camie Foley, senior captain Katie Nugent and senior Allison Carey. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

By DAN TOMASELLO

BEVERLY — It’s hard to stop a dynasty, and the girls’ tennis team is no exception to the rule.

The top seeded Pioneers won its fourth straight Division 3 North sectional championship after defeating third seed Austin Prep 5-0 at Beverly High School June 9. The locals previously declawed the Cougars 5-0 May 23.

Lynnfield’s fourth straight sectional championship marks the 14th time the Pioneers have won the sectional title in 25 trips to the finals over the past 37 years. The Pioneers won sectional titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016 in addition to 2017.

“This was one of the goals the seniors had at the beginning of the season,” said Pioneers head coach Craig Stone. “They wanted to go four for four.”

Senior captain Sarah Mezini agreed.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Mezini. “I never thought we would do it, but we did. I am thrilled we pulled it off.”

Senior captain Katie Nevils concurred with Stone and Mezini’s point of view.

“It feels really, really good,” said Nevils. “Sarah and I have both been playing since freshman year, and it feels like it flew by so fast. It’s just awesome we are so strong after all these years.”

“The fact we were able to win all four years shows the dedication we have,” added senior captain Katie Nugent.

Mezini easily dispatch first singles opponent Marie-Elena Gerety in straight sets, 6-1, 6-0. The match lasted 40 minutes.

Nevils was the second Pioneer off the court, which came a minute after Mezini prevailed. Nevils defeated third singles counterpart Olivia Caruso in two sets, 6-0, 6-1.

Senior captain Camie Foley clinched the Pioneers’ fourth straight Division 3 North sectional championship after cruising past second singles opponent Silvanna Salines in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. Foley’s match ended shortly after Nevils concluded her contest.

“It feels awesome,” said Foley about the Pioneers a fourth straight sectional title.

Stone commended all three singles players’ performance against Austin Prep.

“The singles players came out and took care of business,” said Stone. “It took a little bit of the excitement away. The match against Manchester went right up to the final buzzer. We had played for two hours, and four of the matches were still on the court.”

The second doubles duo of seniors Laura Mucci and Allison Carey dispatched seniors Jackie Chovinard and Danielle Abdenouri in two sets, 6-1, 6-3.

The first doubles tandem of Nugent and sophomore Alexa Vittiglio earned a hard fought two set victory over counterparts Mia Han and Jenna Costello in a match that lasted just over two hours and featured two tiebreakers. Nugent and Vittiglio prevailed 7-6, 7-6.

“I am glad both doubles teams came away with wins,” said Stone. “Second doubles didn’t have much of an issue, but first doubles had a little bit of trouble. Austin Prep had a decent first doubles team. (Nugent and Vittiglio) need to be in competitive situations like that, and they have been this year. They have shown they can handle the pressure.”

Stone commended the Pioneers’ play against the Cougars.

“A win is a win, whether it’s 3-2 or 5-0,” said Stone. “What I have preached from the beginning is tennis is a team sport, from the first singles point to the second doubles point. You just need three. Here, everybody was able to come up with a ‘W.’ It’s a nice way to finish the sectionals.”

Mezini said, “everyone played great” against Austin Prep.

 “The semifinals definitely warmed us up a little because we played longer, harder matches,” said Mezini. “This one was definitely a reward for us, but this will get us ready for what’s coming on Monday.”

Stone credited the Pioneers’ success to a strong senior core.

“This group of seniors have won four sectional championships and a state championship,” said Stone. “Right now, they are sitting at an overall record of 79-4. Of those four losses, two were to Manchester during the season and two came to Martha’s Vineyard during the state semifinals. It’s pretty remarkable over a four-year period. Other than Katie and Sarah, the other seniors waited for their opportunity. That to me is the definition of success. They have been able to make an impact, and it shows a lot about their character.”

While seven Pioneers took the court against Austin Prep, Stone noted the rest of the team accompanied the locals’ starters to the finals. He said having the reserves observe the starters on the court will pay dividends in the future.

“We had 20 kids here today,” said Stone. “I told them on the bus there is a good chance that six or seven of them will be on the court next year.”

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