Class C boys tennis: PVCICS edged by Lee for WMass title (PHOTOS)

  • PVCICS No. 1 singles player Aidan Cleary reaches for a reurn against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • PVCICS No. 1 doubles player Teddy Scott returns a shot against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • PVCICS No. 2 singles player Hugo Shinn hits a forehand against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • PVCICS No. 1 doubles player Clayton English returns a shot against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • PVCICS No. 2 singles player Hugo Shinn reaches for a backhand against Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class C Championship game on Tuesday in West Springfield. The top-seeded Dragons fell 3-2. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2022 9:31:47 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD – The narrowest margins decided every aspect of Tuesday’s Western Massachusetts Class C boys tennis final.

No. 3 Lee took down the top-seeded Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School 3-2 to claim the Wildcats’ first-ever title. Three of the five matches required three sets.

“These are two very evenly-matched teams and I think if we play again tomorrow, it might go the other way,” PVCICS coach Michael Locher said. “It was a tough break for us.”

It wasn’t decided until the final position finished at No. 3 singles. PVCICS’ James Scott lost the opening set 7-5 against Josh Perrier before rallying 6-3 to force a decisive third set in more ways than one. The match was tied 2-2 at the time. Whoever won the set would capture his team the title.

“I knew it was definitely close,” Scott said. “Don’t let it get to your head, you want to play every point like it could be your last because that could be game.”

He dropped the set’s first three games before stringing two games together to cut it to 3-2. Perrier ripped off three more games in a row to close the match as the sun disappeared behind the trees.

“We’ve got a really young squad,” said James Scott, a freshman. “If we can’t do it this year, we’re hopeful we can do it again.”

Lee (14-1) leaned on its experience to win the first point. Seniors Matt Kinney and Josh Hartman bested middle schoolers Asa Taggert and Gabriel Loinaz 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles.

Then the Dragons’ talent showed at No. 2 singles. Seventh grader Hugo Shinn bested Cooper Maloney 6-3, 6-3 despite struggling at match point a handful of times before putting it away.

“It was really tough because tennis is like 90 percent a mental game. I could really feel that I was starting to wear down,” Shinn said. “I knew that I had to get this game or the match would keep going. My team being out there supporting me helped me battle through to the end.”

The Wildcats moved within a point when their No. 1 doubles team of Mason Mihler and Ben Cooper survived a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Clayton English and Teddy Scott, the Dragons’ sophomore elder statesman.

By that point both No. 1 and No. 3 singles were well into the third set. Lee’s Matthew Petrescu needed to take a medical timeout after cramping up. He and PVCICS eighth grader Aidan Cleary each took a set 6-4 to set up the third.

Petrescu led 4-3 in the final frame despite his hampered movement, but Cleary moved him around enough and picked his spots to win the next three games and the final set 6-4.

“That’s something we really haven’t had to do this year. We’ve been blowing people out,” Locher said. “Having the players face challenges like this will make them better and make us a better team.”

The Dragons (14-2) aren’t done this season, or for the foreseeable next few years. They’re No. 12 in the Division 4 state power rankings and looking at a first round home match in the upcoming state tournament. Seeds and pairings are expected to release Wednesday.

“I’m trying to put a spin on this so we take something positive away,” Locher said.

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

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