Amherst, Belchertown boys tennis sharpen each other as postseason approaches

  • Amherst No. 1 singles player James Serhant returns against Belchertown on Wednesday in Belchertown. The Hurricanes won 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst No. 2 singles player Aengus Cox returns against Belchertown on Wednesday in Belchertown. The Hurricanes won 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Belchertown No. 1 doubles plaer Colby Masse lines up a shot against Amherst on Wednesday in Belchertown. The Orioles fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst No. 1 doubles player Josh Kellogg fires a shot against against Belchertown on Wednesday in Belchertown. The Hurricanes won 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst No. 1 doubles player Sachin Khashu watches his shot against Belchertown on Wednesday in Belchertown. The Hurricanes prevailed 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Belchertown’s Trevor Weiss returns against Amherst on Wednesday in Belchertonw. The Hurricanes won 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst No. 2 doubles player Siddu Sitaraman fights off a Belchertown shot Wednesday in Belchertown. The Hurricanes won 3-2. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/10/2021 7:15:11 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Colby Masse paused at the score card. He and Belchertown No. 1 doubles partner Carson Boscher were locked in a tight first set with Amherst’s Sachin Khashu and Josh Kellogg. They were unsure of the scorekeeping procedure with both teams so close to six games.

Masse asked Khashu and Kellogg if they played a tiebreaker or additional game.

“This is our first close game,” Masse said.

“Us too,” Khashu responded.

They both needed it. Amherst and Belchertown will contend for their respective sectional titles when the postseason begins in a few weeks. The Orioles were unbeaten, while the Hurricanes had lost just once. Both  had rarely been tested. Wednesday’s neighborly showdown gave both teams exactly what they were looking for. Amherst prevailed 3-2, and the Orioles sharpened themselves looking ahead to the postseason.

“That’s exactly what we wanted in terms of the competition level. It’s easily the best competition we’ve played all year and probably the best competition we’ve played the last three years,” Belchertown coach Zach Siano said. “It’s a good showing for our boys.”

The Hurricanes controlled the top two singles positions to take a 2-0 lead. James Serhant only lost one game against Ben Schrenzel at No. 1, and Aengus Cox beat Tom Vinagre 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2.

Belchertown started to show its depth further down the lineup. Trevor Weiss fought back to beat Miles Jeffries 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

At the same time, the No. 1 doubles match solved its tiebreaker concerns when Khashu and Kellogg best Masse and Boscher 7-5 in the opening set.

“I haven’t done this since the playoffs two years ago. It’s fun tennis,” Masse said. “We had to give full effort, just keep going.”

Sweating profusely on a hot day, the Orioles clawed back to win the second set 6-4 and took the third set 6-2 to tie Amherst 2-2.

“We had to adjust our game plan a little bit, play a little bit smarter. That really benefited us,” Boscher said.

Khashu and Kellogg found similar value in the loss. They hadn’t dropped a set — let alone a match — all season.

“It’s humbling to know that teams can beat you. We have to adapt our own game. Up to now we haven’t had to adapt how we’ve been playing at all,” Khashu said. “It’s sad to lose, but that’s the most exciting game we’ve played all season.”

All eyes shifted to the No. 2 doubles court. Belchertown’s  Kiernan Cornish and Jacob Chaisson won the first set 6-1, then Amherst’s Siddu Sitaraman and Rohan Shenoy forced a tiebreaker in the second set, fighting off match points to stay alive and force a third stanza. The Orioles took the first three games of the third set, but the Hurricanes rallied 6-3 to seal the victory.

“Mentally we were bad in the first set. We were missing easy balls,” Shenoy said. “Clutching, when it comes down the wire, winning, is huge in the postseason.”

Thankfully they won’t have to see each other again with a championship on the line. Amherst plays in Division 1, while Belchertown is the defending Division 3 champion from 2019.

“It gives us so much confidence,” Masse said. “This is probably the best tennis team we’re going to play all year.”




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