By Jean DePlacido
---- — MARBLEHEAD – The final match of the season proved to be an excellent tune up for the upcoming tournament for both Manchester Essex and Marblehead. The Hornets won the non-league tilt, 4-1, but every match was hard fought.
For the first time in 15 years the Hornets finished the season undefeated with a perfect 15-0 mark. Coach Robbie Bilsbury knew his team would by tested by the Magicians.
“We played really well; it was awesome tennis,” said Bilsbury. “Every match was exciting, and this is great preparation for the tournament. We went unbeaten my first year at Manchester Essex, and that was 15 years ago so this is really nice. We have a special group of players this season and hope to do some damage in the tournament.
The last match to be decided was No. 2 singles where Marblehead junior Miles Barry and Manchester Essex’ Calvin Lamothe battled as players from both teams cheered them on. Barry was the lone winner for the Magicians, 7-6, 7-5.
“That was a tough one,” said Barry after putting Lamothe away with a well placed shot. “I was really feeling the pressure because it was back and forth the whole way. I just kept playing my game and returned everything I could. I didn’t try to go for many winners, just kept the ball in play.”
Barry started the season as a doubles player, but quickly was moved to singles. MH coach Elizabeth Foukal has been very pleased with his play all season.
“Miles is a rock,” said Foukal. “He is a very smart player and has had some incredible matches all season. He manages to stay calm under pressure and doesn’t make many bad moves.
“Even though we lost this match it was very competitive,” said Foukal. “They are undefeated for a reason; that team is solid all the way through. We knew their singles would be very strong, but we had hoped to do better in doubles. There are no weak spots for Manchester Essex though. That’s the reason why they are undefeated.”
Manchester Essex won first singles behind Michael Fuca, who defeated Marblehead junior Chris Wigglesworth, 6-4, 6-3 while Sam Girian beat MH sophomore Griffin Butterfield, 6-0, 6-1 in third singles.
“Mike was outstanding against a really tough player in Wigglesworth,” Bilsbury said. “This was a great win, Marblehead is such a good team and to beat them to finish off the regular season is huge for our confidence heading into the tournament.”
In doubles action the first Hornets team of Jake Rich and Jeff Durkin beat Dimitri Vlassov and Jason Frost, 6-1, 6-4. The second doubles team of Colin Babikian and Josh Christopher won a close match from Marblehead’s senior captain Alex Rothbard and Michael Forte, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5 tiebreaker).