Northampton sophomore Stefan Johnson wins WMass Individual Tennis Tournament singles championship

  • Stefan Johnson, who plays first singles for Northampton, returns during his match against Nate Piligian, of South Hadley, April 3 at Mount Holyoke College. Johnson won the Western Massachusetts Individual Tournament championship, Sunday in Longmeadow. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 5/19/2019 11:31:18 PM

LONGMEADOW — It started out cold and wet, as tournament officials and volunteers began squeegeeing and blow-drying the Bliss Courts.

A short delay made their efforts worthwhile as Hampshire County was well represented by Northampton High School and Amherst Regional in the Western Massachusetts Boys Individual Tennis finals on Sunday.

Northampton sophomore Stefan Johnson won the singles championship. Johnson came into the tournament as the first seed and defeated second seed Kostas Kollias, of Longmeadow, 7-6, 6-3, in a hard-fought finals round.

Johnson started out the day beating Anh Nguyen, of East Longmeadow, 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinal round.

While Johnson appeared to ease through most of the rounds, he was in fact battling through a few different injuries.

“I think I left it all on the court in my semifinals match,” Johnson said. “I was really tired in the finals. I started cramping in my stomach and leg. And I was already struggling due to my injured elbow.”

Johnson explained that he injured his elbow before Sunday’s semifinal, and couldn’t backhand any balls as a result.

“My game was definitely weakened,” he said. “It’s a really long tournament, and when you play some of these longer games it can take a lot out of you.”

Johnson has significant experience even in his short career with the Blue Devils. He made his way to the finals last year as a freshman, but lost. Johnson learned from his experience last year and has worked to develop his game.

“I’ve gotten a lot older and wiser, I think,” he said. “After last season I spent a week down in Florida developing other parts of my game.”

Johnson said he was excited to advance and get a chance to see the rest of the state’s competition.

The state semifinals will be held at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury on June 15. Singles start at 9 a.m.

“It was a really tough performance from him,” said Northampton co-coach Matt Muspratt. “I’m proud of the way he finished, because I know how banged up he is from a physical standpoint.”

Muspratt said there is a lot of positive momentum moving forward for Northampton’s tennis program.

“It’s a really exciting time,” Muspratt said. “Stefan’s a leader on the team already as a sophomore. We have some other young talent throughout the team, and I feel like we can move forward with this momentum.”

Northampton has a few more matches left in its regular season.

“I think I am going to take tomorrow off and rest up,” Johnson said with a smile. “But I know I have to get back to work and be ready for the next round.”

Asa Geller and Chris Raphael-Reily competed for Northampton in doubles, but lost to Longmeadow’s Ben Griffiths and Liam Knowlton 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinal round.

Amherst was represented by James Serhant in the singles semifinal round. Kollias beat Serhant 6-2, 6-3. Also from Amherst, Siddu Sitaraman and Rohan Shenoy lost to Ryan Monreau and Bryan Shields 6-2, 6-0 in the doubles semifinals.


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