Monument Mountain girls tennis wins, sets up all-Berkshire Western Mass. D-III final
GREAT BARRINGTON -- If Monument Mountain can prove for a second time this season that it's the best girls tennis team in Berkshire County, it'll claim a second consecutive Western Massachusetts Division III championship.
The undefeated Spartans won an all-Berkshire semifinal over Mount Greylock, 4-1, on Wednesday. They'll meet Lee for the sectional championship at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Lenox Community Center. If it rains Friday, the match will move inside to the Berkshire West Athletic Club at 3 p.m.
Monument (16-0), the second seed in the sectional draw, swept doubles play, and earned three-set wins at both Nos. 1 and 2 singles to hold off the sixth-seeded Mounties (15-4). The match was actually a continuation from Tuesday's start, but no one got in more than two games before storms forced a postponement to Wednesday.
Sam White -- who has just one singles loss all season -- dropped the first set to Greylock's Tara Shastri in a tiebreaker, but rebounded in a big way to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-0.
White hung tough in the first set, but Shastri's volleys were solid and she was playing what Greylock coach John Jacobbe thought was her best tennis of the year.
"Tara can hit the heck out of the ball," he said. "She just held her own for the whole first set. She battled through [the tiebreaker] and found a way to win."
From there, White said she kept her volleys down and used more topspin to regain her footing.
"I was definitely lifting up way too much. I wasn't staying down," she said. "She [Shastri] was hitting hard balls."
Cara Freadman, an almost-equally tough singles player as her teammate White, was forced to a third set by Melina Sfakianaki before prevailing 6-1, 2-6, 6-3. Greylock got its only win of the day at third singles, where Mariza Sfakianaki beat Jen Evans 6-3, 4-6 (11-9).
Jacobbe said he was proud of the Mounties' competitive fire Wednesday, but he wasn't satisfied with moral victories.
"It wasn't our goal to force three sets," he said. "Our goal was to win the match. We know we're playing a very good team, and they competed and left everything out there."
Monument's doubles teams were the first to earn victories Wednesday. Carly Shafiroff and Hailey Higgins gave the first team point to the Spartans, as they beat Rachel Swoap and Katie Mick 6-4, 6-2.
The deciding points of the match were separated by mere minutes. At No. 1 doubles, Monument's Emily Martin and Molly Amstead beat Tyra Nurmi and Charlotte Rand 6-4, 7-6 (8-6). Not long after that, White finished off her first singles win to clinch a berth in the title match.
"No. 2 doubles has been strong all year," Monument coach Jeff Caligari said. "Usually, our No. 1 doubles team is very athletic. They've had some tough matches this year; I think this match today is going to be a great character builder for them."
Lee may be a No. 8 seed, but the Wildcats have proven throughout this tournament that the seeds do not matter to them. Lee has taken down No. 1 South Hadley and No. 5 Palmer to reach the Western Mass. title match.
While the seeds may not matter anymore, Caligari thinks the strength of Berkshire County does. After all, three of the semifinalists came from the Berkshires.
"I expect a real tough match," the coach said. "I think they've gotten better as the year's progressed ... and they've got a tough lineup. I always felt they were the second-best team in Berkshire County, and I'm not surprised they're in the finals."
Singles: 1 -- Sam White (MM) def. Tara Shastri 5-7, 6-1, 6-0; 2 -- Cara Freadman (MM) def. Melina Sfakianaki 6-1, 2-6, 6-3; 3 -- Mariza Sfakianaki (MG) def. Jen Evans 6-3, 4-6 (11-9); Doubles: 1 -- Emily Martin/Molly Amstead (MM) def. Tyra Nurmi/Charlotte Rand 6-4, 7-6 (8-6); 2 -- Carly Shafiroff/Hailey Higgins (MM) def. Rachel Swoap/Katie Mick 6-4, 6-2.
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