Class A boys tennis: Longmeadow holds off Northampton 3-2 to capture WMass title

The Northampton boys tennis team poses with the Western Mass. Class A runner-up plaque after losing a hard-fought 3-2 match to Longmeadow at Blinn Courts in Longmeadow on Friday afternoon.

The Northampton boys tennis team poses with the Western Mass. Class A runner-up plaque after losing a hard-fought 3-2 match to Longmeadow at Blinn Courts in Longmeadow on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/GARRETT COTE

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles returns a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles returns a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles serves against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles serves against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles smashes a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles smashes a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Oliver Levine smashes a shot while competing with Reed O’Connor in their No. 1 doubles match against Longmeadow’s John Rousou and James Wray at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Oliver Levine smashes a shot while competing with Reed O’Connor in their No. 1 doubles match against Longmeadow’s John Rousou and James Wray at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Galen Fowles returns shot against Longmeadow’s Ben Norman during their No. 2 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Galen Fowles returns shot against Longmeadow’s Ben Norman during their No. 2 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Durrell Patrick serves against Longmeadow’s Richard Li during their No. 3 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Durrell Patrick serves against Longmeadow’s Richard Li during their No. 3 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Durrell Patrick returns a shot against Longmeadow’s Richard Li during their No. 3 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Durrell Patrick returns a shot against Longmeadow’s Richard Li during their No. 3 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Oliver Levine serves while competing with Reed O’Connor in their No. 1 doubles match against Longmeadow’s John Rousou and James Wray on Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Oliver Levine serves while competing with Reed O’Connor in their No. 1 doubles match against Longmeadow’s John Rousou and James Wray on Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Reed O’Connor lunges for a shot while competing with Oliver Levine serves in their No. 1 doubles match against Longmeadow’s John Rousou and James Wray on Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Reed O’Connor lunges for a shot while competing with Oliver Levine serves in their No. 1 doubles match against Longmeadow’s John Rousou and James Wray on Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles returns a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles returns a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles smashes a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow.

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles smashes a shot against Longmeadow’s Kevin Liang during their No. 1 singles match Friday at the Western Mass. Class A boys tennis championship in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-24-2024 5:42 PM

Modified: 05-24-2024 7:15 PM


LONGMEADOW — With two matches still being played, the No. 2 Northampton boys tennis team held a 2-1 advantage over No. 1 Longmeadow during Friday afternoon’s Western Mass. Class A championship match at Blinn Tennis Courts.

After losing 3-2 to the Lancers during both meetings during the regular season, the Blue Devils were hoping to flip the script on a bigger stage.

One of those matches still being played was first singles, where Reilly Fowles beat Kevin Liang in a thrilling first set, but dropped the second to send it into a decisive third. The other was first doubles, as Reed O’Connor and Oliver Levine battled back to force a second-set tiebreak following a 6-3 first-set defeat.

Fowles ran out of steam against Liang – this spring’s Western Mass. individual champion – while O’Connor and Levine came up just shy of forcing a third set, and Northampton once again dropped a 3-2 match to Longmeadow as its bid for back-to-back Western Mass. titles fell short.

“It was a beautiful day for tennis, and we knew all five courts were going to be very evenly contested today,” Northampton head coach Ben Lewis said. “We’ve had a wonderful year, and today was a culmination of that and now we’re looking forward to the state playoffs.”

Trailing 5-4 in the first set, Fowles dug in facing Liang’s powerful serve. He broke the Lancers senior to tie the set at five, then clinically worked through his serve to re-gain control of the frame ahead 6-5.

He then broke Liang once more to give him a 7-5 victory – the first time Fowles, a junior, had taken a set from Liang in now their third year competing against each other.

“I’m super proud of Reilly for taking a set against Kevin, that was the first time he’s ever taken a set against him,” Lewis said. “Really, everyone battled.”

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The stage was then set for Northampton’s first doubles pairing of O’Connor and Levine, battling against the Lancers’ John Rousou and James Wray. Every patron huddled over by the far court to watch the tiebreak, which began with O’Connor and Levine falling in a 4-0 hole.

The Blue Devils’ duo ripped off four straight to get back in it, but it wasn’t enough to stymie Longmeadow in an eventual 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) loss.

“They have worked so hard both individually, and as doubles partners, as teammates,” Lewis said of O’Connor and Levine. “They were able to raise their level up today. They may not have been able to finish off the match, but hopefully this gives them some positive momentum moving forward in to states as well as next year.”

It was pure domination at second and third singles for Northampton, which is nothing new this spring. Galen Fowles and Durrell Patrick have yet to lose a match at those spots in 2024.

Galen Fowles, a senior who hadn’t played competitive tennis prior to this year, enjoyed a 6-0, 6-0 win over Ben Norman at No. 2 singles, and Patrick, a junior, wasn’t far behind – walking off the court at third singles with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Richard Li to put Northampton in the driver’s seat at the time.

“It’s been a real treat watching those two guys,” Lewis said. “This is Galen’s first year with the team, and he went undefeated at second singles all season. Durrell also went undefeated at third singles all season. Their leadership is very evident throughout the team. We wish Galen the best as he goes off to college next year, but Durrell and Reilly will be back, and we’re looking forward to another great season.”

Northampton’s No. 2 doubles tandem of Eli Wool and Kaz Sugihara dropped a 6-0, 6-0 match to Longmeadow’s Ben Mahoney and Matt Desrosiers.

Although the Blue Devils didn’t leave Longmeadow with the result they had intended, they’ve put themselves in a terrific spot for the upcoming MIAA Division 2 tournament with their overall convincing body of work.

Northampton currently sits at No. 12 in Division 2, just one spot behind Longmeadow. And with a record of 11-3, all three defeats coming off the rackets of the Lancers, the Blue Devils have picked up key wins over several strong teams in the area.

They’re sure to host a first round match, a first for the program.

“Our team has worked hard all season, and we’re seeing the improvements,” Lewis said. “We’ve only lost to Longmeadow this year. We feel like we can make a run. I’m excited for the players, because we’re hoping to host a home playoff match for the first time in a very long time, if not ever.”