Published in the June 17, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
BURLINGTON — The girls’ tennis team won its second straight Division 3 North sectional championship in memorable fashion on June 12, as the number one seeded Pioneers defeated archrival and third seed North Reading 5-0 at Rahanis Park in Burlington.
“It always feels good to get to this point because each year you do, you do it with a different cast of characters,” said Pioneers head coach Craig Stone. “When we started the season, this was one of our goals. We wanted to win the league, we wanted to win the section and we want to win the state tournament. Sometimes winning the section is the hardest thing to do.”
The 2015 Division 3 North sectional championship is the 12th sectional title the Pioneers have won. Lynnfield has also won sectional titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2014.
Lynnfield jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the match after both doubles teams earned impressive victories.
“I think both doubles teams came out like shots,” said Stone. “After we won the doubles matches, I kind of relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the day.
The first doubles team of junior Olivia Skelley and sophomore Katie Nevils notched the first victory of the day for the locals, as they defeated North Reading senior captains Meg Carlo and Kaylin Scher in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0.
“Olivia and Katie are fierce competitors,” said Stone. “I think they wanted to prove something today and used that as motivation.”
Sophomores Camie Foley and Katie Nugent earned an impressive victory in second doubles, as they dispatched the undefeated second doubles tandem of senior captain Jenny Crotty and Meghan Griffin in two sets, 6-1, 6-2.
“I think that was motivation for them,” Stone said about Foley and Nugent wanting to defeat the unbeaten Crotty and Griffin. “This is a nice caveat for Katie and Camie in their young careers.”
Senior captain Kelley Nevils officially clinched Lynnfield’s second straight Division 3 North championship after defeating sophomore Aly Budny in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, during second singles.
Sophomore sensation Sarah Mezini battled tooth and nail against sophomore Marissa Galuppo in first singles. Galuppo repeatedly kept Mezini on her toes during the first set but Mezini managed to squeeze out a 6-4 first set victory. Mezini won the second set 6-1.
Mezini and Galuppo have battled on the court three times this year, with Mezini coming out on top of all three matches. Stone said “familiarity” played a factor in the contest.
“I don’t think Sarah took anything for granted,” said Stone. “Granted she didn’t have her A game but as I tell the girls, the mark of a great tennis player is being able to win when you are not playing well. And she was able to do that.”
Senior captain Izzy Figucia was the final Pioneer left on the court with the locals maintaining a 4-0 lead. Figucia defeated her third singles counterpart Tia Campagna in two sets, 6-3, 6-3, while her teammates and Lynnfield fans cheered her on.
“It was nice Izzy finished last because everyone got to focus on her,” said Stone. “She has been one of our most consistent performers this year. She has a relentless backboard type of style.”
Stone praised his squad’s performance after the Pioneers won its second straight Division 3 North sectional title.
“We are very fortunate to have quality players who are always ready to compete,” said Stone. “It’s not just a season for them and a lot of them play year round. They understand the historical significance of playing tennis in the girls’ program at Lynnfield High School. They don’t want to drop the ball.”
Stone also commended the Pioneers for weathering temperatures in the high 80s during the Division 3 North finals. He said he told his squad not to give up any loose points during the match, which he said would give the Hornets “a false sense of security.”
“The conditions were not ideal but it’s better than playing in the wind and in the cold,” said Stone.
The Pioneers defeated North Reading 4-1 on May 11, which was the Hornets’ only loss this season prior to the Division 3 North finals. In a twist of irony, the Division 3 North finals marked the second time Lynnfield defeated North Reading in a sectional championship game this year. The Lynnfield girls’ soccer team won the Division 3 North title after defeating North Reading 3-1 last November.
“Coming into the match, I thought it would be difficult for us not to be up 2-0 with Sarah and Kelley,” said Stone. “But I definitely thought North Reading had three point potential.”
North Reading head coach Matt Finn congratulated the Pioneers on winning their second straight Division 3 North championship.
“North Reading definitely battled hard and did our best,” said Finn. “Lynnfield seems to have a knack for stepping up and playing their best during big matches. It’s a tribute to their great coach and how tough all of the girls are. I definitely think they were the better team and they deserved to win.”
Finn also wished the Pioneers the best of luck in the state semifinals.
“We are now big Lynnfield fans because the only team we have lost to this season is the Division 3 North champs,” said Finn. “We hope they go far in the state tournament and win all of it so we can consider ourselves the runner-up in the entire state.”