SOUTH HADLEY -- The Monument Mountain girls tennis team has relied on its singles all season.
But by the time the Spartans won first and second singles against South Hadley, their semifinal match was already decided.
The Tigers swept doubles then Nicole LaBarre beat Shea Caligari 6-2, 6-2 at third singles as South Hadley advanced to the Western Mass. Division III final with a 3-2 victory at Mount Holyoke College on Thursday.
"Singles had been very solid for us all year," Spartans coach Jeff Caligari said. "South Hadley has a great team all the way through, and in the end it just came down to that third singles match. We accomplished a lot this year that we didn’t think we would such as winning Berkshire County, so it was a good year, and South Hadley is a good team."
Second-seeded South Hadley (18-4) will face No. 4 Lenox (13-4) in the championship today at 4 p.m. at Ludlow High School. No. 3 Monument finished 12-2.
"I definitely felt a little pressure toward the end when I saw the two doubles coming off the court winning. I knew I just had to finish quick so that we were safe," LaBarre said. "I think I played pretty well. She was getting a lot of good hits as well so I had to just keep myself in there and play it point by point."
Abby Foster and Hannah Pancione defeated the Spartans’ Jen Evans and Paula Krenicki 6-1, 6-1 in first doubles. In second doubles South Hadley’s Miranda Stapley and Allie Steinbock defeated Monument’s Emily Martin and Aidan Holiday 6-1, 6-4.
"Playing a team like Monument Mountain and going to the Western Mass. finals, anything can happen. They want to win and we want to win," Tigers coach Eric Cestro said. "Competition, fitness, and ability are all gone. You have to have heart. You need that to win at this level and that’s what we go with."
After South Hadley clinched the match, both coaches considered cutting first and second singles short, but the players insisted that they finish their matches. It resulted in two Spartan victories in three sets. In first singles, Monument’s Samantha White defeated Julia Duda 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
In second singles, Spartan Courtney Freadman came from behind after dropping the first set to defeat South Hadley’s Jill Beiermeister 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.
"Courtney just had the mindset today that she was going to outlast the other girl," Jeff Caligari said. "They both have similar styles basically."
Second singles was the longest match of the day, finishing in about two hours, 45 minutes.
"It was really exciting and a really long match," Freadman said. "There were a lot of deuces and a lot of good hits by both of us. Even though we had already lost the whole thing it was good to stick with it and win my match."
"We’re really looking forward to next year," Jeff Caligari said. "I think we’re just going to get stronger and we have a lot to build on."
Singles -- No. 1: Samantha White (M) def. Julia Duda (S) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. No. 2: Courtney Freedman (M) def. Jill Beiermeister (S) 1-6, 6-1, 6-1. No. 3: Nicole LaBarre (S) def. Shea Caligari (M) 6-2, 6-2. Doubles -- No. 1: Abby Foster and Hannah Pancione (S) def. Jen Evans and Paula Krenicki (M) 6-1, 6-1. No. 2: Miranda Stapley and Allie Steinbock (S) def. Emily Martin and Aidan Holiday (M) 6-1, 6-4.