A young Vineyarder boys varsity tennis team dropped a pair of truncated matches, 5-0 and 3-2, to the Sharon High School Eagles on Monday afternoon at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). The losses to the 2017 Division 2 state finalists dropped MVRHS to 8-2 on the season. The Eagles, who play in Division 1 this season, rose to 11-1.
Vineyarders Garrett Zeilinger and David Krauthamer took second doubles for the first win of the match, while second singles sophomore Chris Ferry rebounded from an 8-6 first-match loss to literally outlast Sharon senior Andre Olivei in a grueling two-hour, 50-minute matchup. The second match went to a tiebreaker that ended when Andre went to the ground for the fourth time with leg cramps, and was unable to continue. Chris was leading the seven-point tiebreaker 4-1 when the match was called.
The event was played in two sets, each counting as a complete match, as a result of multiple weather-related cancellations this spring. Each set was played until one player achieved eight points, with a two-score advantage rather than six points as the normal winning standard. If teams were tied after seven points, a seven-point tiebreaker was used to determine the winner.
Three of the 10 matches featured tiebreakers in a battle of top Bay State talent, including third singles matches that saw Vineyard freshman Eric Reubens rebound from a first-match loss to rally in an ultra-long second match, forcing a tiebreaker won by Sharon.
But second singles was the longest match on a day that began warm and sunny and ended with cool temps and offshore wind. Andre, a tall, lanky power player, was paired against a careful serve-and-volley player in Chris Ferry, who kept his opponent in motion and wore him down after Olivei took the long first set by an 8-6 score on an iffy call that Andre saw as outside the line. High school tennis is an extremely civil environment that relies not on officials but on players to make in or out calls on shots by opponents.
Chris played strategically, particularly in the second match, using long periods of volleys and making a clearly wilting Andre move around the court until Chris had an opportunity, several times on passing shots, to score the point.
Head Coach Tony Omer applauded his team of mostly freshmen and sophomores. “This was the toughest home match we’ve had this year. Sharon is a talented and experienced team. We learned to adjust our game during the match, which is critical in tournament play,“ he said.
Assistant Coach Ryan Sawyer (MVRHS 2013), a member of two Vineyarder state championship teams, thought the Monday matches were beneficial. “That’s the level of competition we’ll see in the state tourney, and this is how you get ready. Our kids are good. You may see them as state champs in the next couple of years,” he said.
The Vineyarders are 4-0 in Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC) play, and are assured the EAC championship with the season winding down and only one EAC opponent, Bishop Stang, left on the schedule.