Published June 12, 2019
By NOAH GREIF
NORTH ANDOVER — As it is so often heard, “All good things must come to an end.”
Last Thursday, a season to remember for the Wakefield Warriors boys’ tennis team came to a disappointing close as they fell to a strong team in North Andover in the Division 2 North Quarterfinals of the MIAA State Tournament. However, the team has no reason to be sulking, as they produced what must be considered the greatest season the program has seen under coach Cheryl Connors and arguably the entire history of the program.
Fresh off of an upset of No. 1 seed Somerville, the Warriors knew the road would only get tougher in the draw.
“North Andover was a very strong team, but we stepped up well despite the loss,” said Connors.
At second doubles, Ian Schermerhorn and Sean DeCourcy didn’t play their best tennis, and ultimately lost 6-0, 6-1 to Luke DePolito and Matt Feng.
“We made mistakes. They didn’t. They capitalized on our mishaps and we got in our heads about their abilities. That allowed them to dictate the pace of play,” said DeCourcy.
At third singles, Johnny Stumpf couldn’t recreate the magic that was shown in his Somerville match but put up a solid fight against an opponent who was consistent yet aggressive. Stumpf was often faced with the task of his opponent, Matt Whidden, coming into the net. The senior captain couldn’t find the best way to keep Whidden in check as he lost 6-4, 6-3.
Jack Palmer and Josh Cieniewicz took on Justin Holland and Ben Romas at first doubles. Palmer had experience against this doubles team, with him and now singles player Lucas Smith teaming up against the North Andover duo in the MIAA Doubles Individuals Tournament last year, where they lost in three sets. After a slow start in the first set, the Warrior duo began to increasingly play better, but couldn’t keep the Warriors in the match, losing 6-1, 7-5.
The top two singles matches were the closest matches, as both could have gone either way.
At first singles, Noah Greif lost to Sean Pfordresher 6-2, 7-6 (10-8 in the tiebreaker). Pfordresher was able to dominate in the first set, as Greif’s shots were too easy to pounce on, landing shorter in the court. In the second set, Greif added depth on his shot to limit the power of his opponent as well as using the angles of the court, but couldn’t win the key points to capture the set.
The only win of the day for the Warriors came at second singles, with Lucas Smith playing some amazing tennis to finish a remarkable season at 16-5. Smith took the victory 6-3, 0-6, 6-3. The junior was able to showcase both his ability to put the ball away while having the stamina to do so in what was his first three-set match of the year.
“It was a hard fought match until the end against a good opponent. I didn’t let him get under my skin. It was a great season for the team overall so it is sad to see it end, but I can’t wait to be back next year stronger as a team,” said Smith.
Wakefield finished its season at 11-10.
“I am so proud of this team. The players worked and practiced very hard, and it showed. Last year we were close to making the postseason. I knew this year we had some returning players, so I thought we had a great chance of making it to states. As a coach I learned to be perseverant because after teaching and encouraging for 10 years, we finally made the state tournament,” said Connors.
The Warriors will look to match their achievements and continue to grow as a team as five of their seven varsity players will return next season. Greif, Smith, Palmer, Schermerhorn, and DeCourcy return, while Wakefield also has plenty of young talent.
“We do have a load of young talent plus experienced players, which will give us another great season. Our young talented freshmen and sophomores are the future of Wakefield Boys Tennis,” said Connors.
Wakefield had a great season but is hungry for more in 2020.