Tom Cimini’s fantastic month of May on the tennis court was set up by a mid-April setback.
Cimini, the Pittsfield High School singles standout and All-Eagle boys tennis MVP, took his first loss of the season on April 17, a three-set setback at the hands of Mount Greylock’s Nyein Soe. Cimini lost 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 in Williamstown.
"I think that tough loss to Nyein kind of turned it around for me," Cimini said. "I knew I had to step it up against the se guys. I pulled my game together."
He certainly did. After that loss, Cimini wasn’t beaten again for a month -- and it took the best singles player in Western Massachusetts to beat him.
Cimini won seven consecutive matches, and 10 of 11, before Pittsfield’s season came to an end in the Western Mass. Division I tournament. His loss in that streak, as well as the loss that helped end his season, came to individual sectional champion Ross Kamin of Longmeadow.
Cimini’s hot streak, though, included three wins against fellow All-Eagle selections -- Kevin Li and Satchel Fisher of eventual Western Mass. D-III champion Monu ment Mountain, and Will Nolan of Mount Greylock.
The three-set win over Li, a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 decision on May 5 in Great Barrington, was one Cimini believes to have been season-defining.
"We had a three-setter, a tight one," he said. "There was a rain delay and everything. I pulled through that one. He and Nyein were good competition. ... Berkshire County was still tough this year, even though we lost Rohan [Shastri] and Tanner [DeVarennes].
DeVarennes, of Lee, was a two-time All-Eagle MVP before moving on to Springfield College, where he was named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference rookie of the year for men’s tennis. Before he made his way to the college ranks, though, De Varennes apparently still had trouble with Cimini.
Lee coach John Perry remembers Cimini giving DeVarennes "the most fits" during high school matches.
"A gritty kid," said Perry of Cimini. "He’s a wonderful competitor."
Cimini’sloss to Kamin, in the Western Mass. individual tournament, didn’t affect him negatively. He picked up three singles wins after that, including a straight-set No. 1 singles win in Pittsfield’s Western Mass. tournament win over Springfield Central.
"It was a situation where the No. 1 seeded player he lost to is a very talented player," PHS coach John Clarno said. "It did not slow him down at all."
Cimini was a co-captain of Clarno’s squad in 2014. The coach considers him "a prime example of sportsmanship" and a model of calm on the court.
"He had the capability of coming from behind in many matches," Clarno said. "This was one of his traits. He’d figure out a way to win.
"His cross-court forehand was good, and he has improved his serve quite a bit this year to make it much more consistent."
Cimini worked to make his second serve stronger and more reliable this spring, working on it during on-court time at Berkshire West Athletic Club. He still found room for improvement, but noted that he accomplished every goal he’d set for himself this spring.
His future includes an attempt to walk on to the tennis team at Holy Cross. Cimini said he’s already informed the coaching staff of his plan.
"It’ll be tough competition, but that’s the next step, I think," he said. "I’m just playing this summer in a couple leagues, getting some match play in."
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