LANESBOROUGH - When it comes to being successful in a high school sport, it takes more than just practicing and competing during the season.
"Everyone worked hard this summer, they really did," said Thomas Villetto, Lenox's No. 1 golfer. "We were out there, especially during the last couple of months of the summer, pretty much playing 27 or 36 holes, as much as we could."
That's exactly what Lenox golf coach Dick Salinetti wants out of his charges. Villetto and Kris Vahle both competed in the Massa chusetts Junior Amateur Tournament this past summer. The two of them and Cam Besse also finished in the top five in the men's championship at Cranwell, where the Millionaires practice and play as a team.
Salinetti said that playing golf was one thing, but they played a lot of tournament golf, which sharpened their skills and their mental attitudes.
"It's a really good tune-up to play," Villetto said. "It was 18 holes of tense, highly competitive golf. You could not make a mistake. It was great practice for the season."
Vahle won the men's tournament at Cranwell, Villetto was second and Besse was fifth. The three of them played together in the final foursome.
Villetto led the tournament by three strokes after the first day. He and Vahle were tied after 27 holes, Villetto led by one after 34 and they were tied with one hole to play.
Vahle watched Villetto rim a chip-in for a birdie.
"I think coming into this year, I think Cranwell," he said. "Last year, Western Mass was great. It was a course we knew really well.
"At Cranwell, there was a little more competition, so it was really cool for Thomas and me to finish there."
Vahle, Villetto and Besse are veterans on a team with some very young guys. Salinetti said that he is pleased with their work ethic, because it shows the younger golfers just how it should go for them.
"I hope so," said Villetto. "We try to lead by example. I don't know if we set a bar for them, but we try. In practices we're always talking, teaching, helping to prepare them for when we won't be here.
"We're always looking to help them."
The Millionaires are undefeated heading into next week. The Millionaires are the defending Western Massa chusetts Division III champion, but finished a disappoining ninth in the MIAA state Division III tournament. The Lenox veterans are ready.
"I can do a lot better obviously," said Besse. "Every golfer thinks that."
Vahle said that last year's loss was a case of the team "collapsing." That experience should serve the Millionaires well should they get back there.
"It's a huge stage. You feel the pressure when you're at states. It's a different environment. You stay at a hotel. It's a completely different atmosphere," said Villetto. "If we are lucky enough to get there a second time, I think everyone learned a lot from last year. "
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.