Saturday May 11, 2013

LEE -- Even one of the best tennis players in New England still gets nervous.

Mount Greylock's Rohan Shastri said he was a little hyped up to face Lee's Tanner DeVarennes on Friday. It showed when Shastri dropped two of the match's first five games.

"We all came down, ‘This is such a big match,' " Shastri said. "I got a little tight in those first couple games. After the four games, I settled down and told myself, ‘You know what? This is just like any other match.' "

The senior placed perfect shot after perfect shot over the final nine games, cruising to a 6-2, 6-0 victory at Lee High School. It was the start of a Mountie sweep, with both the Greylock boys and girls winning by identical 4-1 scores. Jonah Majumder and Gray Kaegi joined Shastri with singles wins to clinch the boys victory. Margot Besnard and Melina Sfakianaki led the girls charge against a Lee team missing its top singles player, Caitlyn Briggs.

Shastri's showdown with DeVarennes, the two-time defending All-Eagle MVP, was the main attraction. Shastri is the top seed while DeVarennes is No. 3 in today's Western Massachusetts individual tournament. The two hadn't met on the court since Shastri last played high school tennis in 2009.

Since then, Shastri has risen as high as No. 1 in New England on the USTA's junior circuit while DeVarennes has dominated Berkshire County high school tennis. But it was DeVarennes who was struggling to breath against a relentless Shastri on Friday.

"He's got the big shots," DeVarennes said after the match as he iced an injured ankle. "He's got the big serve. His ball jumps off the court like I've never seen. ... He's very consistent while he's still hitting very hard. That's something that's really hard to find."

DeVarennes could handle some of Shastri's power, but it was the Mountie's perfect placement of hard-hit balls that helped him reel off nine straight games. DeVarennes could do little more than offer applause for his opponents' shots.

"The first set he was hitting the ball quite flat and I was trying to mash him with power," Shastri said. "But second set, I think I really stepped it up. I was hitting heavier and harder then him and he was dropping the ball a little short. With my power and placement I think I was able to take control of the match."

Greylock was able to take control of the county at a perfect 8-0. The Mounties (8-0, 8-0 county) swept singles matches against the Wildcats (7-2, 7-2) even without No. 3 player Nyein Soe, who had an academic obligation. Coach Stephen Bryant said having Kaegi step in and snag a win at third singles shows just how deep his team is.

The Lee girls weren't quite as fortunate without Briggs, who was out sick. Greylock (6-3, 5-3) took advantage, winning two of three singles matches and sweeping the doubles points to move within one win of the Western Mass. tournament.

Lee (6-4, 6-4) had to break up its doubles pairings to find a third singles player in Isley Gagnon. Lee's only win came from Eileen Dooley at second singles.

"Our first doubles team had not played together, and considering that I think they played pretty well against a pretty strong Greylock 1 doubles," said Lee coach Jeff Forget. "We'll have them again next week."

The teams meet in Williamstown on Tuesday, when DeVarennes and Shastri will likely get a rematch before another possible meeting the following weekend in the Western Mass. final. So how does the Lee senior hope to stop Shastri then?

"He's the most consistent baseline player I've ever seen," DeVarennes said. "He hits with such spin and such power, you need to move in and take it early. Even though you don't want to be aggressive, you still have to."

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Greylock boys 4, Lee 1

Singles -- 1. Rohan Shastri (G) def. Tanner DeVarennes, 6-2, 6-0; 2. Jonah Majumder (G) def. Andy Consolati, 6-2, 7-5; 3. Gray Kaegi (G) def. Jordan Williamson, 6-2, 6-4.

Doubles -- 1. Nathan Majumder/Alex White (G) def. Jack Harding/Joe Winston, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3; 2. Matty Kelley/Mike Eckert (L) def. Will Nolan/Jake Foehl, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Greylock girls 4, Lee 1

Singles -- 1. Margot Besnard (G) def. Emma Forget, 6-2, 6-3; 2. Eileen Dooley (L) def. Tara Shastri, 6-1, 6-1; 3. Melina Sfakianaki (G) def. Isley Gagnon, 7-5, 6-4.

Doubles -- 1. Tyra Nurmi/Sophia Gebara (G) def. Ashley Kelly/Julie LePrevost, 6-3, 6-0; 2. Mariza Sfakianaki/Charlotte Rand (G) def. Hadley Cook/Victoria Murphy, 6-3, 6-0.