Girls’ tennis falls to Manchester-Essex in D3 North finals

Jun 21, 2018 by

‘The future looks bright,’ says Stone

Published in the June 20, 2018 edition

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

NORTH READING — A Lynnfield vs. Manchester-Essex girls’ tennis matchup in the Division 3 North tournament has become a tradition over the years.

Usually, the postseason winner between these two Cape Ann League rivals means a trip to states. After beating the Hornets in each of the last four Division 3 North tournaments, (4-1 in the 2014 semifinals; 5-0 in the 2015 semifinals; 3-2 in the 2016 semifinals; 3-2 in the 2017 semifinals), this year belonged to an extremely talented Manchester-Essex team. The Hornets defeated the Pioneers 5-0 on June 12 to advance to the state semifinals.

For Lynnfield, the sixth seed in this year’s tournament with a 14-4 regular season record, it felt more like a step in the right direction rather than a loss.

Not many expected a team this young to make it back to the D3N Finals for the fifth consecutive season.

THE FUTURE is certainly bright for the LHS girls’ tennis team who made it back to the Div. 3 North Sectional Finals for the fifth consecutive season. The Pioneers return six of their seven starters from the Finals match against Man.Essex on June 12. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

“To be able to accomplish what we did this year and get back to the sectional finals is quite an achievement,” said Lynnfield head coach Craig Stone. “I said to the team before we got off the bus, ‘this is a win-win situation. Number one, we win just by being here. We also win by improving on our performance from our last match (against Manchester-Essex). I’m extremely pleased. The future looks bright.”

While this stage was nothing new to Stone, whose teams have been in the sectional final 26 of the 38 years he has been coaching Lynnfield girls’ tennis, it was new to the young Pioneers on the court. Of the seven starters in the lineup, two were freshmen, three were sophomores, one was a junior and one was a senior.

Although they didn’t win a match, the Pioneers competed hard and won a collective 17 games, much better than their last outing against the CAL-best Hornets.

Senior Brazilian exchange student Bela Ferreira had the best match of the day against Bridget Miller at third singles, as the two rallied and matched each other shot-for-shot while the the crowd gathered from since-completed battles.

SENIOR Bela Ferreira had a great performance at third singles in the Div. 3 North Championship against Manchester-Essex, eventually falling 3-6, 4-6 after a competitive match. Ferreira, an exchange student from Brazil, stepped up for Lynnfield and had a fantastic season helping lead a young Pioneer team. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Miller would go on to win, 6-3, 6-4, but it was a symbol of the type of mentality that made Ferreira a vital part of the team’s accomplishments during her only season of Lynnfield tennis.

Captain Alexa Vittiglio also fought hard at second singles as she fell to Stephanie Pratt, 6-2, 6-2.

Freshman Megan Nevils had the unenviable task of facing Olivia Mariotti at first singles, who would go on to win, 6-0, 6-0.

Lynnfield’s doubles teams also showed improvement from their earlier matchup against the Hornets.

Sophomore Gillian Skelley and freshman Emma Gallucci dropped a 1-6, 2-6 score to Chanel Bullock and Christina Bullock.

Sophomores Claire Yang and Celeste Joly played their opponents tough at second doubles and gave their junior counterparts a tough first set before the Hornets pulled away in the second, 6-3, 6-0.

Needless to say, it was a learning experience for Lynnfield; one that will motivate them to prepare for next season.

“Being able to achieve at this level and still having a really good nucleus coming back is great,” said Stone. “We can use this as motivation. During the rest of the year when things are getting tough and you’re drilling, huffing and puffing you’ll think ‘hey this is what we’re working for.’ I always tell the kids, ‘you become a better tennis player, we become a better team.’ ”

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