History made

Jun 7, 2019 by

Netmen upset No. 1 Somerville on Stumpf heroics

THE WAKEFIELD boys’ tennis team made history with their 3-2 win over No. 1 Somerville in the Div. 2 North Tournament on Tuesday. It was Wakefield’s first tournament appearance since 2004 and their first playoff win since the 90’s. (Courtesy Photo)

Published in the June 7, 2019 edition.

By NOAH GREIF

MEDFORD — After clinching their first MIAA tournament berth but learning they would play the tournament’s top seed, the Warriors could have just been thankful to be playing so late in the season.

However, that has never been the attitude of the WMHS boys’ tennis team, wasn’t the attitude against Somerville on Tuesday and won’t be for the rest of the season.

The Warriors showed no fear in going up against the top seed in the tournament. Despite the record differential, the teams were very evenly matched due to the Warriors playing in a difficult Middlesex League, while Somerville dominated in a weaker Greater Boston League. The energy of the tournament seemed to reach every varsity playe, as Wakefield played some of their best tennis of the season while under great pressure.

Lucas Smith put the Warriors on the board first with a well-played match at second singles. Smith caught his opponent flat-footed in the first set, bursting out of the gates for a 6-0 win. The junior was cruising in the second set 4-0, but his opponent, Sam Newman, began to find his rhythm to make it 5-4. Smith closed it out and yelled a loud, “Come on!” to the Wakefield crowd.

At first doubles, Jack Palmer and Joshua Cieniewicz played clutch tennis despite a rowdy Somerville crowd. The first set saw back-and-forth action, where the Warrior duo edged Owen Sheehy and Henry Zou 10-8 in the tiebreak. Palmer and Cieniewicz really began to find their strides in the second set with no signs of fatigue, dominating 6-1 to put Wakefield up 2-0 in the match score, now only needing a single win.

Noah Greif wasn’t able to get the clinching win against a tough opponent in Rezka Yuspi at first singles. Greif and his opponent were neck-and-neck in both sets, but Yuspi was able to make the last push in each set to secure the win. Greif lost the last two games of the first set at 5-5, and the last two games of the second set a 4-4, with a final score of 7-5, 6-4.

This put the pressure on both third singles and second doubles to come up with a win to send the Warriors to the quarterfinals.

Second doubles was a classic where Ian Schermerhorn and Sean DeCourcy were edged by Kevin Zou and William Mehize 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3 in the tiebreak). The duo played excellent in the first set, but in the words of assistant coach Sandy Palmer, “When you when the first set big, you have to be even better in the second set because your opponents will change something.”

That was the case in the second set, but Schermerhorn and DeCourcy left some of their best tennis for the third set. However, the Somerville crowd was electric as they couldn’t clinch the win.

With the score tied at 2-2, the fate of the Warriors’ season rested on the racquet of senior captain Johnny “Ace” Stumpf. Though he didn’t have any aces in the match, Stumpf proved why he is such a trustworthy player at singles: his consistency.

Rallies in the match were lengthy, with Stumpf and his opponent, William Capuano, both trying to avoid making mistakes. Stumpf lost the first set 6-3.

The senior then found himself down 5-1 in the second set, but with the second doubles match still in action, Stumpf’s match was not yet the deciding match. However, Stumpf rallied to 5-5, knowing that it could be his last varsity match ever. With the second doubles match over, Stumpf realized it was all up to him, but was unable to get the start he wanted in the third, finding himself down 5-2.

“After a series of silly mistakes, I was down 5-2 in the third set. I knew that if I lost one more game then I would lose the match for my team. Rather than getting down on myself however, I tried to retain a positive mentality by remembering how I had come up from the second set and that I was lucky to take my match to a third set in the first place. I hadn’t expected that to happen so I kind of held on that and used it as motivation for the remainder of the match. I tried my best to remain calm and tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter whether I won or lost,” said Stumpf.

Just when the Warriors out of the match, Stumpf came roaring back to tie it at 5 behind an equally loud crowd of Wakefield parents and players.

With nothing to lose, Stumpf closed out what would be the match of his life. The Wakefield crowd went insane, as the Warriors had shocked the No.1 seed in their first MIAA tournament appearance since 2004 and possibly the first tournament win since the 1990s.

“It was the best match I have ever played and the most exciting one. I was incredibly lucky to have lots of support from my awesome coaches and teammates. It was a match I will never forget!” said Stumpf.

The true personalities of Wakefield’s players came out against Somerville, as they showed the state that they are not a team to be overlooked. “Everyone stepped up and played their hardest. I am extremely proud of this team and excited to be going to the quarterfinals against North Andover,” said coach Cheryl Connors.

The Warriors were edged by North Andover in the quarterfinals yesterday. A full story will appear at a later date.

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