Mount Greylock girls tennis falls to South Hadley in Western Mass. D-III semifinals
SOUTH HADLEY — The scorebook read 5-0 in favor of South Hadley, yet it was only a few bounces away of being far closer.
While the Tigers earned a chance to face Lee on Tuesday in the Western Massachusetts Division III finals, Mount Greylock's young team could take confidence from its play against the top seed. That was especially true at the top two singles positions, as both Mia VanDeurzen and Hannah Gilooly worked their matches into third-set tiebreakers.
Although neither of the players were able to finish out the matches, the resilience with the match already decided was a stepping stone for the No. 5 Mounties.
"We wanted to go as far as we could this year," Mount Greylock coach John Jacobbe said. "We have a young team with five sophomores, two freshmen and a senior, and we got to play the No. 1 seed at their place and we gave them a little bit of a scare. First and second singles went to three sets and second doubles was a tiebreaker early. You have to learn how to play under pressure, and we've gotten better step by step along the way."
Kaylin Cousineau and Hailey Werenski showcased different types of mental fortitude in their victories. Cousineau lost a tight first set to Gilooly and had just taken control of the second set when South Hadley (17-2) secured its third point. She finished off the second set 6-3 then broke open the super tiebreaker with an ace at 4-4 to take the match.
Meanwhile, Werenski had to bounce back from a disappointing chain of events to win her match. After holding serve to open the first set, she and VanDeurzen continued to break one another until the South Hadley junior won the opening set. Werenski then broke VanDeurzen late in the second set to take a 5-3 lead and served for the match.
VanDeurzen won the final four games of the set to force a super-tiebreaker, which Werenski won 10-1 to complete the shutout.
"(VanDeurzen) won a three-set tiebreaker in the quarterfinals against a girl she lost to last year, she forced a third set this year," Jacobbe said. "It's a challenge when you win that middle set to go to a third-set tiebreaker, you know you're not playing for your team anymore. She had a little letdown in the tiebreaker, but I'm really proud. That comeback in the second set is something she build off even though the tiebreaker ended a little bit different than she wanted."
As is normally the case for South Hadley this season, it was the top doubles pair of Isabella Earle and Aislinn Ford who got the ball rolling for the Tigers. The duo looked to be in a tight match early, trailing 2-1 and down 40-15 in the fourth game. But the Tigers pair rallied to win that game then cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 win.
It's the type of tone-setting victory that South Hadley has come to rely upon from its No. 1 doubles duo, and an opportunity the two seniors have come to relish in bigger moments.
"We knew we had an upper hand with that team, not they're a bad team," Ford said. "We knew we could beat them and we just switched our brain. Usually (we have that moment) where it's like `this is it, we're starting now, we're going to get good now' and that's what happened."
Madde La Costa returned to the lineup for the Tigers and outlasted Charlotte Sanford, 6-3, 6-1 in a No. 3 singles match that featured numerous long rallies that fell in La Costa's favor.
On the No. 2 doubles court, Allison Descheneaux and Julia Pratt ran into some early trouble, winning back-to-back must-win games to force a first-set tiebreak. Yet the duo won the breaker 7-3 then cruised in the second set 6-1 for South Hadley's second point of the day.
South Hadley will play No. 2 Lee today at Forest Park in Springfield for the Western Mass. title. The match is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.
Singles — 1. Hailey Werenski (SH) def. Mia VanDeurzen 6-4, 5-7, 10-1; 2. Kaylin Cousineau (SH) def. Hannah Gilooly 4-6, 6-3, 10-7; 3. Madde La Costa (SH) def. Charlotte Stanford 6-3, 6-1.
Doubles — 1. Isabella Earle/Aislinn Ford (SH) def. Josie Dalsin/Izzy Leonard 6-2, 6-1; 2. Allison Descheneaux/Julia Pratt (SH) def. Ava Simon/Olivia Winters 7-6 (3), 6-1.
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