ME Girls Tennis’ Season Ends Against Lynnfield


Three wasn’t necessarily the magic number this time around.
In a competitive match between two titans of the sport in Massachusetts, the Manchester Essex and Lynnfield girls’ tennis played to a draw during the Final Four matchup between the two Cape Ann League stalwarts. A win would move the victor on to the MIAA Div. 4 State Final, while a loss would end the other team’s season.
At that point, with the score 2-2, the match came down to third singles after the Pioneers came away with points at first and second singles, and the Hornets won at both first and second doubles.
“The match was very tight,” explains Manchester Essex girls tennis coach Barrett Alston. “It
came down to third singles [in] a three-setter. The entirety of the third set was played out with the overall match tied at 2-2.”
Despite an impressive effort from Sienna Crocker, Lynnfield ended up with the win at third singles in that hotly-contested three-set match to pull out a 3-2 victory on June 12, ending another memorable spring for the Hornets.
Grace Scarbrough and Sarah Cort were stellar at first doubles, finishing the season with a record of 25-0 and earning all-scholastic honors from the Boston Herald. Libby Lawler and Emily Parkins also picked up a win at second doubles (Lawler was substituting in place of Mackay Brooks), with the Manchester Essex second doubles pairing losing only one match all season. Grayson Crocker and Nina Zalosh put in strong efforts at first and second doubles, respectively, while Crocker was more than game with the match on the line.
“Sienna Crocker at three played great, balanced tennis under extreme pressure as the match dragged on into a third hour with a ton of people watching,” says Alston. “Couldn’t be prouder of her effort.”
The Hornets are no stranger to Lynnfield after facing them both during regular and postseason play the last few years.
“We only see Lynnfield once a year -- we are in [Cape Ann League] Baker, they are in Kinney -- but it’s for sure enough to understand their strengths, weaknesses and know what it will take to be competitive,” says Alston. “Both sides come in knowing what they need to do, and you can see the pre-planned tactics in play.”
Alston is pointing to the loss as a learning experience both for the coach and the team.
“In terms of lessons [and] takeaways, definitely a reminder that competitive tennis matches are won on the margins and that little things can swing matches,” explains Alston. “Also, how important an engaged crowd can be in setting an atmosphere. I also need to grow as a coach: I have a ton of experience coaching tennis from a technical standpoint, but I need to be able to help out the players more during changeovers from a tactical standpoint.”
Had the Hornets won the match, they would have moved on to face Hamilton-Wenham for the second year in a row for the state title, giving Manchester Essex the rare opportunity to attempt to go 3-for-3 against the perennially competitive Generals.
The highlights of the season were, without question, the two 3-2 victories over Hamilton Wenham, who just won their third consecutive state championship,” explains Alston. “Monster wins from Sienna and the two doubles teams in both matches, lots of three setters with the capstone being Emily and Mackay winning a third set tiebreaker after a full third set to clinch the second victory. The match won us the CAL and set off a heck of a celebration; incredible team performance under pressure.”
Another highlight was the Elite Eight win over Monomoy during the tourney.
“In the tournament, we weren’t really pushed until the quarterfinal against Monomoy, but that match highlighted the strength of our doubles and the improvement of our singles players across the board,” says Alston. “There was a moment where I was trying to watch all three singles matches and due to the particulars of the court layout therefore couldn’t see the doubles. All of a sudden, I hear cheers for us on the doubles courts and the three
singles players were in the middle of playing points in the exact, specific ways that we had been working on. Pretty cool to see and hear it all coming together!”
Next spring will serve as another exercise in watching the ME girls’ tennis team come together, with, four of the team’s seven starters graduating.
“Sienna and Grayson were awesome captains and have been huge parts of the team for four years, they have given so much to the program,” says Alston. “Mackay and Emily were such a great doubles team that raised their level when they most needed it, so impressive.
The coach adds, “It’s tough to lose them but
we have an excellent foundation: Nina, Grace and Sarah will all be back and we’ll build out the team around them.”