LYNNFIELD’s epic run through the Div. 4 State Tournament came to an end on Saturday at MIT with a 5-0 loss to Hamilton-Wenham in the Championship match. Pictured from left to right is Gianna Micieli, Charlotte Beccia, Fiona Asaad, Jerusha Robbins, Faye Allen, Charlotte Rose, Emma Wagon, Vicky McCrann, Ella Hayman, Maddie Sieve, Lily Alves, Paige Martino and coach Craig Stone.
(Jamie Hayman Photo)

CAMBRIDGE — The Lynnfield High girls’ tennis team competed in the Div. 4 girls’ tennis State Championship on Saturday at MIT in Cambridge, falling to CAL foe Hamilton-Wenham 5-0 to end their season with an overall record of 16-7. 

It was Hamilton-Wenham’s third consecutive state title. 

“After losing to them in the regular season, we knew where they were most vulnerable and had our chances but were denied,” said head coach Craig Stone.

Junior captain Paige Martino fell to Emma Jani 6-0, 6-1 at first singles. 

Sophomore Lily Alves lost to Naomi Provost 6-0, 6-0 at second singles.

“They have two outstanding players at 1’s and 2’s,” said Stone of the Generals. “Both Paige (22-3) and Lily (20-4), who also had outstanding seasons, gave it their all but fell short.”

Senior captain Maddie Sieve played two close sets against Ellie Holbrook at third singles but came up short, 6-3, 7-6. 

“Maddie met a wall and everything came back,” said Stone. “It was only appropriate that her last match be a tiebreaker as she led our team in tiebreakers played for the third consecutive season.”

Lynnfield’s first doubles duo of senior captain Leticia Marafon and junior Ella Hayman saved their best of the season for last, extending their CAL All-Star opponents in both sets, but falling short, 6-4, 7-5.

The second doubles team of sophomore Vicky McCrann and freshman Emma Wagon played catch-up from the start and lost to a more experienced team, 6-2, 6-2. 

“There is a quote, ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey.’ We experienced both,” said Stone. “It was a journey that included constant improvement, a tremendous competitive atmosphere and unbelievable team spirit. And we finished the season at a destination that allowed our players to get the recognition that they so deserved.”

That destination at MIT was made possible because of a thrilling, 3-2 win over Manchester-Essex in the State Semifinals on June 12 at St. John’s Prep. The No. 3 seed Pioneers defeated the No. 2 Hornets in all three singles matches to earn the win. 

“The anticipation kept building with each win, the crowd kept building with their enthusiasm and support and the players rose to the occasion with unbelievable play,” said Stone. “Getting the win was the icing on the cake.”

The win was that much sweeter for Lynnfield as Manchester-Essex has knocked them out of the tournament the last two years: 4-1 in the Final Four last year and 3-2 in the 2022 Quarterfinals. The Hornets beat the Pioneers 3-2 on May 6 as well.

The biggest win came from an epic battle at third singles with the entire match on the line as Sieve and Sienna Crocker had all eyes on them to see who would be advancing to the State Final. Crocker won the regular season matchup 6-2, 6-3 and beat Sieve in the CAL Open 8-7. Crocker took set one 6-3 but Sieve dug deep, winning the second set 6-2 and the third one 6-3.

“With the match tied at 2-2, ‘Marathon Maddie’ was doing her thing with all eyes upon her,” said Stone. “Almost three hours later, and after her second match point, we had a 3-2 win. Maddie continued to play steady when needed and offensive when the situation demanded. That mixed with great defense was the winning combination.”

Martino defeated Grayson Crocker 6-2, 6-2 at first singles and Alves beat Nina Zalosh 6-3, 6-2.

“Both Paige and Lily led from start to finish,” said Stone. “Paige dictated play with cross court and down the line topspin shots, constantly keeping her opponent off balance. Lily, relies on steady play, moving her opponent around the court, and just at the right time hitting a passing shot or an offensive lob.”

Marafon and Hayman fell 6-1, 6-1 at first doubles and McCrann and Wagon lost 6-3. 6-4 at second doubles.

Manchester’s first doubles played error free and dominated at the net. 

Lynnfield’s second doubles played the best they have all season, giving their opponents a scare, especially being up 3-1 in the second set. Earlier in the season, they lost to the same Hornet pair, 6-1, 6-1.

In the end, it was a memorable win against a big rival on an even bigger stage.

“I would not say it was an upset, because each player had confidence in themselves and their teammates, but to turn the table after previous results was extremely gratifying,” said Stone.