SENIOR CAPTAIN Kelley Nevils gave a valiant effort on the court in a three-hour long match against Martha’s Vineyard’s Kat Roberts. Unfortunately, Nevils lost the match in three sets during the Pioneers’ 3-2 loss to the Vineyarders in the Division 3 state semifinals on June 17. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

SENIOR CAPTAIN Kelley Nevils gave a valiant effort on the court in a three-hour long match against Martha’s Vineyard’s Kat Roberts. Unfortunately, Nevils lost the match in three sets during the Pioneers’ 3-2 loss to the Vineyarders in the Division 3 state semifinals on June 17. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LEXINGTON — The girls’ tennis team’s magical season came to a close on Wednesday, June 17, when the Pioneers fell 3-2 to Division 3 state champion Martha’s Vineyard in the state semifinals at Lexington High School.

“We went into the season expecting to be here but it was the elephant in the room where we didn’t talk about it,” said Pioneers head coach Craig Stone after the match. “We were literally a point away from going to the next round. We always have high expectations going into the season and making the tournament is never a goal. We have made the tournament 33 years in a row, but the goal is how far can we go. We play all year long for this opportunity. We will use this as motivation individually and collectively.”

The Pioneers finished the 2015 season with an overall record of 20-1. Lynnfield had won 41 consecutive matches over the past two years and had not lost since falling to Weston in the 2013 Division 3 North semifinals on June 6, 2013.

“Right now we are really sad but looking back on it we’ve done so well,” said senior captain Izzy Figucia. “This is our first loss in two years.”

Sophomores Camie Foley and Katie Nugent pulled out the Pioneers’ first victory of the state semifinals in second doubles. Nugent and Foley repeatedly kept second doubles counterparts Lia Potter and Madison McBride on their toes and won the match in two sets, 6-0, 6-2.

“They have come along nicely since they assumed the starting position at second doubles,” said Stone. “They play solid doubles and are a talented sophomore team. They are going to have a great future.”

The Vineyarders tied the match at one after sophomore Sarah Mezini fell to first singles opponent Samantha Potter in two sets, 3-6, 2-6. Mezini’s loss to Potter was only her second this season.

“I think Sarah had difficulty with (Potter’s) style,” said Stone. “She didn’t generate a lot of pace on the ball and Sarah was a little bit impatient. Sarah had difficulty with her serve and gave away too many free points. I think that was the difference. She’s been on the team for two years now and she has over 30 wins.”

The Pioneers took a 2-1 lead after the first doubles tandem of junior Olivia Skelley and sophomore Katie Nevils defeated Martha’s Vineyard’s second doubles team of Charlotte Potter and Josie Iadicicco. Skelley and Nevils earned a hard fought 7-5 first set victory and prevailed 6-3 during the second set.

“They finished the season undefeated in match play and didn’t lose a team match,” said Stone. “They are a solid doubles team and were sectional semifinalists in the Individual Tournament. They both play well really together.”

Figucia’s third singles match went to three sets against Martha’s Vineyard’s Lizzie Williamson and lasted just under three hours. She lost the first set 1-6, but rallied and won the second set 7-6 (5).

“I have no idea how I got that,” said Figucia.

Stone commended Figucia’s performance during the second set.

“Izzy was a little shell shocked in the first set but came out banging balls in the second,” said Stone. “I told Izzy to hang in there because they are going to slow down a little bit. She came back and won the second set tiebreaker.”

Unfortunately, Figucia was unable to sustain any momentum during the third set and lost the set 2-6. Williamson’s victory over Figucia tied the match at two.

“It was a nice situation for her to be in,” Stone said about Figucia. “I was confident in her abilities to pull it out.”

While Figucia was battling Williamson on the court, senior captain Kelley Nevils was locked in a tight battle against second singles opponent Kat Roberts. The three-hour long match was evenly played and Kelley managed to win the first set 6-4.

Kelley played well in the beginning of the second set but Roberts came back and forced the tiebreaker. After falling behind 1-6 in the tiebreaker, Kelley rallied and had a chance at match point after coming up with some big shots. Unfortunately, Kelley lost the second set 6-7 (10).

“To come all the way back and actually have a match point in the tiebreaker is a tough situation,” said Stone.

Roberts came out firing during the third set. Roberts was utilizing drop shots throughout the third set, which enabled her to take control of the match. Kelley fell 1-6 to Roberts during the third set, which ended the Pioneers’ quest to repeat as Division 3 state champions and the locals’ 41 match win streak.

“It’s fitting for her to be in that position because she has given it her all for four years,” said Stone. “We have not had a lot of 3-2 situations, but when we do it seems like she’s always involved. If it were not for her at this point last year, we wouldn’t have gone on to the state finals. It’s unfortunate that it was flipped but she also had a shot.”

Stone said fatigue played a factor during the third set. Kelley also acknowledged she was battling blisters over the course of the three-hour long match.

“Kelley wore down a little bit physically and mentally,” said Stone. “I was hoping she would jump up early in the third set but (Roberts) was definitely solid.”

Kelley said it was fitting both herself and Figucia were fighting tooth and nail to send the locals back to the state finals.

“I think it was a nice moment even though it didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” said Kelley. “It’s been a great four years.”

After Kelley’s match concluded, the Pioneers came out onto the court and honored the senior captain and recognized her accomplishments on the court the past four years.

“It shows the importance of the team concept and team spirit,” said Stone. “They appreciated Kelley’s effort out there and what she has done for the team. It was a nice gesture on their part.”

Stone commended Kelley’s stellar four-year career at Lynnfield High after the match.

“She emulates what Lynnfield tennis is all about,” said Stone. “She was very unselfish, was a team player and has great sportsmanship. She is an outstanding student-athlete and I have nothing but praise for her and the way she handles herself on the court and how she’s handled being a captain. She leads by example and is an outstanding, all-around student athlete.”

Stone also offered high praise for Figucia.

“She had an outstanding season,” said Stone. “She has been a great role player and a great role model for the team.”

In addition to Kelley and Figucia, the Pioneers will also be saying goodbye to three other seniors, Rachel Maglio, Melanie Richard and Kayla Collins. Maglio was on the Pioneers for four years, was a two-year varsity letter winner and started at second doubles regularly this season.

“Rachel played with intensity and determination,” said Stone. “She worked on her game throughout the winter.”

Richard and Collins also played tennis for four years under Stone and were spot starters the past two years.

“They would be starters on most other teams,” said Stone. “Great examples of team spirit.”

The Pioneers will be welcoming back a strong core next spring, including Mezini, Katie Nevils, Skelley, Foley and Nugent. Stone said he’s looking forward to seeing what the locals will do for an encore.

“We have everyone else back next year,” said Stone. “I think we will be more experienced. It will be great having so many of them back. And who knows who’s going to step up and play a big role for us next year.”

Published in the June 24, 2015 edition