Girls tennis: Ludlow tops Northampton in tight Class B championship

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  • Northampton No. 3 singles player Daria Warren hits a backhand against Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton No. 1 singles player Jeanne Maia Mangan Larouche attacks the ball gainst Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton No. 3 singles player Daria Warren saves a low shot against Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton No. 2 singles player Camille Richmond returns against Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton No. 1 doubles player Sarah Ryan reacts quickly at the net against Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton No. 2 singles player Camille Richmond chases a far return against Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton No. 1 singles player Jeanne Maia Mangan watches a backhand shot against Ludlow on Monday during the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match in Longmeadow. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 5/27/2022 10:29:42 PM
Modified: 5/27/2022 10:27:46 PM

LONGMEADOW – Northampton’s Daria Warren fought off championship point six times.

The Blue Devils’ No. 3 singles player kept Ludlow’s Jessica Morgado at bay as long as she could in the Western Massachusetts Class B championship match Friday. If she could make it through that game, it would knot the third set at 5 games each and give her room to breathe.

Morgado was trying to end the game, set and match with the Lions winning two positions already. Northampton only had one, so a loss at either court would give Ludlow the championship.

The No. 2 singles match between Northampton’s Camille Richmond and Ludlow’s Ashlyn Keating was in a 10-minute break preceding the third set.

Warren chased Morgado’s shots back and forth across the end line, both players exhausted from a more than two-hour match at that point. Morgado looped her a long ball toward her backhand, and Warren couldn’t pitch it back over the net. That secured the set 6-4, their match 2-1 (0-6, 6-4, 6-4) and the championship-sealing third position for the top-seeded Lions.

“Ludlow has a wonderful team, and their players showed up today. Our players battled hard, and you saw great, great matches on all five courts,” Northampton coach Ben Lewis said. “It was really, really close.”

The Lions defeated No. 3 Northampton 3-2, ultimately. Two singles matches went to three sets, and both doubles matches required tiebreakers in at least one set, as the participants weathered brief spurts of rain and swirling clouds and wind that threatened to postpone the match at any moment.

No. 1 singles was the only runaway, and Northampton freshman Jeanne Mei Mangan Larouche sprinted away from Malina Dinsi 6-1, 6-0. She adopted an aggressive strategy playing more at the net with higher risk and higher reward.

It rewarded more often and wrapped quickly.

“I try and do a few things I’ve been doing in practice,” Mangan Larouche said. “I think it was effective, but it is scary to try and do that because not a lot of people do it because you’re at the net and it’s really scary.”

After her victory, Mangan Larouche became the Blue Devils biggest cheerleader. 

They lost the next three matches, which ended their shot at their first sectional championship.

Ludlow’s No. 1 doubles team of Nina Lussier and Emma Serisser bested Northampton’s Roxie Clauson and Sarah Ryan 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, and Northampton’s No. 2 pair of Louisa Dice and Josie Kirley fell 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) against Gabby Pereira and Abby Cruz to put the Lions in pole position.

Warren’s loss meant Richmond and Keating had to play just a 10-point tiebreaker rather than a full third set since the match was decided. Richmond lost the first set 1-6 but rallied to take the second 6-4 before winning the tiebreaker 10-7.

“I just keep in mind my practice and my shots and just tried to play my game,” she said.

The status of the match at large didn’t cross her mind as she closed out the final few points.

“I don’t think I really had much feeling, I was just excited to play Ashley,” Richmond said. “She’s a great player.”

Northampton’s season isn’t over despite the loss. The Blue Devils are ranked No. 34 in the MIAA Division 2 state power rankings, but their 11-7 record will qualify them for the state tournament. Seeds and matchups will be released early next week.

“We try and build from each game, each match and be able to carry that over the course of the season,” Lewis said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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