County boys tennis standouts focus on the team first
Tanner DeVarennes had a shot to make his second Western Massachusetts final.
The Lee senior, though, wasn't worried about the glory of the individual tournament at Longmeadow High School. His mind was on the team tournament, still weeks away.
"[The team tournament] is definitely a lot more important than this," DeVarennes said then. "This is just me going out and playing for myself. Now, when I'm going out there for the team I'm playing for nine other guys. I don't want to mess up."
DeVarennes withdrew from the semifinal after just three games, choosing to rest an injured ankle so he'd be ready for the Western Mass. team event. In a sport where individuals get all the attention, Berkshire County's two biggest stars -- DeVarennes and Western Mass. champion Mount Greylock's Rohan Shastri -- have turned the spotlight to their teams.
While Shastri won that individual tournament, he has downplayed the accomplishment, forcing to focus attention on the great season the unbeaten Mounties have had. He wants a state title for the team and the former New England No. 1 repeats that goal every time he finishes another dominating individual victory.
"[Shastri] has a humble personality, which is awesome for the team," said teammate Jonah Majumder. "I think if he took the attitude that I was all about him and he was the sole reason for our success, it'd make it harder for us to keep working hard to improve. Having him and everyone else reinforcing, ‘It's the team,' makes everyone -- even the kids not playing -- motivated to keep working hard."
It's paid off for both, with Lee and eventual winner Mount Greylock reaching Thursday's Western Mass. final. DeVarennes was pressed against the fence at Belchertown earlier this week, watching his teammates finish off a semifinal victory. Shastri can be one of the loudest supporters, even cheering the Mounties on while he's playing on an adjacent court.
Lee coach John Perry said he remembers DeVarennes talking about how important his team is at the individual tournament. That, Perry said, is a result of the senior's maturity.
"I always want the kids to be thinking about their teammates instead of about themselves," Perry said. "Sometimes with a lineup we have different kids playing in different positions. [It's] a willingness to do whatever is best for the team."
Like the Mounties, DeVarennes' Lee teammates appreciate the way their star player puts his team first.
"It means a lot," said Lee's Matty Kelley. "[DeVarennes] cares about the team. It shows he's not a cocky player or anything like that. Team comes first in every sport, even tennis. It means a lot to us."
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