Lee boys tennis finishes as runner-up in Western Mass. D-III tournament
SPRINGFIELD — It was a wild ride for the Lee boys tennis team, but the Wildcats' season came to a close on Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to Belchertown in the Western Massachusetts Division III final.
The Wildcats entered the tournament as the fourth seed and knocked off top-seeded Turners Falls 5-0 in the semifinals, before the loss to the third-seeded Orioles, a team that defeated Lee 5-0 earlier in the season.
"They're a good team,"Lee coach John Perry said. "They're a good team and I am happy for them. They have a great coach and group of kids. It was a good day of tennis."
While the season came to a disappointing end for Lee, playing in a Western Mass. championship provided an incredibly young Wildcat squad with some serious tournament experience.
"It was amazing [to play in the finals]," seventh-grader Cooper Maloney, who plays third singles, said.
The Wildcats start just two tenth-graders and the rest of the unit consists of seventh, eighth, and ninth-graders who now know what it takes to bring home a championship crown.
"I plan to play through the summer and winter," Maloney said. "The goal is to play as much as I can to continue to improve."
Lee's one win on the afternoon came from eighth-grader Matt Petrescu in second singles. After dropping the first set, he battled back to defeat Belchertown's Josh Tan 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.
"I need to keep working through the summer to get better and improve my game," Petrescu said. " It will be really helpful heading into next season. It feels great knowing I'll have more opportunities to capture a Western Mass. title."
For Perry, he is hoping this experience is just what his young, but skilled, group needs to take the next step.
"Hopefully it will motivate them to play during the summer because that is the key," Perry explained. "It only helps us get better heading into next season."
Belchertown's Maxim Caron and Ben Schrenzel won in straight sets at first and third singles, and the same was true for each duo that played in doubles.
Lee's Chris Petrescu took seven total points off Caron at first singles, but couldn't overcome in a 6-3, 6-4 loss.
The win was the first Western Mass. title for the Orioles.
"We knew how tough Belchertown would be," Perry said. "I am just happy we made it here. Of course, I wish we could have won it, but there are no regrets. Hopefully we'll work a little harder and make it back next year."
While the 2019 installment ends in the Western Mass. final for this Wildcats squad, the future remains bright for the youthful and talented program.
"We played really well all season long," Maloney said. "It was a fun season."
Singles — 1. Maxim Caron (B) def. Chris Petrescu 6-3, 6-4; 2. Matt Petrescu (L) def. Josh Tan 3-6, 6-4, 10-8; 3. Ben Schrenzel (B) def. Cooper Maloney 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles — 1. Colby Masse/Korey Houle (B) def. Gabe Kelley/Mason Mihler 6-3, 6-2. 2. Ian Roche/Sam Rogalewski (B) def. Cam Tyer/Carter Geoghan 6-0, 6-1.
Jake Mendel can be reached at email@example.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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