It was all about the heat.
Becoming a competition of pure endurance in stifling temperatures, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) girls varsity tennis team (20-1) rose to the occasion, as usual, and beat Lynnfield High School in decisive fashion 5-0 at the sprawling Lexington High School athletic facility Monday to advance to the state finals.
The temperature was 96°F, but felt much higher, and the ladies on both sides of the net seriously felt the tremendous heat from the hard courts beneath them. Players were asking for ice chips to put in their mouths, cold towels were on necks — it was a killer summer day.
Using keen strategy, co-coaches Nina Bramhall and Liz Roberts decided to shake up their usual lineup, moving third singles player Hannah Rabasca down to first doubles alongside Lizzie Williamson, and pulling Victoria Scott up to third singles from her normal first-doubles position with Lizzie.
“It was about experience,” Ms. Bramhall told The Times. “This is a really high-pressure moment, and Victoria has been here before, and Hannah hasn’t — she’s a freshman — and the heat had been a big factor to [Hannah] on Saturday [at the Division 3 South championship match].”
Kelly Klaren was first off the court at second singles, winning easily, 6-0, 6-0, against Cameron Foley. “The heat was pretty brutal, but otherwise the tennis was really good,” Kelly said.
Lizzie Williamson and Hannah Rabasca were next off the court at first doubles, and beat Katie Nugent and Alexa Vittiglio, 6-1, 6-2, followed by the Pogue sisters, Molly and Paige, who defeated Laura Mucci and Allison Carey 6-1, 6-3, sealing the next stop to the state finals Wednesday with the Vineyard now having three of five matches won. “It was a good match, one of our harder ones. It was really hot, too, which definitely was a factor, but I think we beat out the heat and played well,” Paige said.
Victoria Scott won against Katie Nevils, 6-0, 6-1, and in an outstanding display of sportsmanship, the two girls were seen postmatch smiling together and sharing a light moment.
Kat Roberts, last off the court in a highly competitive match, beat Sarah Mezini 6-4, 6-1.
“She’s a really competitive player, and she had a real lefty spin. It took a little while to get used to that,” Kat Roberts said.
“It was totally thrilling,” co-coach Nina Bramhall said. “Winning 5-0, we didn’t expect that.”
Unlike the very young Vineyard team (with three freshman and two sophomores), on the Lynnfield team, five of seven ladies are seniors — two of whom were seen postmatch wiping away tears after the emotional day.
“It’s pretty much what we said all year, it’s about depth,” MVRHS athletic director Mark McCarthy said. “They made a little switch at third singles, and Victoria came up and took care of business, and Hannah took care of business with Lizzie down in doubles. This team is all about depth, and that all stems from what they get coming up through the [Vineyard Youth Tennis] program.”
The Vineyarders will compete for the state championship against Division 3 West champions Monument Mountain High School of Great Barrington at 2:30pm Wednesday, June 14, at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury.Monument Mountain edged out Hopedale in their semifinal, also played Monday, 3-2. The Vineyarders beat Hopedale in the MIAA state championship matchup the previous two years.