By Nick Curcuru
---- — SHREWSBURY — The Manchester Essex girls tennis team left no doubts as to who the best team in Division 3 is Saturday in the State Championship match against Monument Mountain.
The Hornets cruised in all five matches winning each of them in straight sets while not allowing Monument Mountain to score more than three points in a set.
With the win, the Hornets cap off a brilliant season with a Division 3 State Championship, their second in the last three years. The team accomplished all that it could accomplish this season, finishing up with a record of 22-0 while winning the outright Cape Ann League title and topping arch rival Bedford along the way to the Division 3 State crown.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been on,” said No. 3 singles player Kendall McCormick, who picked up the team’s first point of the afternoon on Saturday. “Not only do we have great players but we are such a close team. Even though we are all in different grades, we all get along and support each other. I think that played a big role in our success this season.”
No. 2 doubles player Molly Carlson, who along with partner Maura McCormick clinched the championship point on Saturday, echoed her sentiment.
“This is such a close team and that goes a long way,” Carlson said. “We had a team lunch just before the match and it really helped us get on the same page as a team. Knowing that everyone on the team is there to support you just makes you play that much harder.”
Manchester Essex was so impressive on Saturday, that it made the finish anticlimactic. With the state individual doubles finals, which played before the Hornets state final tilt, running late, the five matches did not start at the same time.
With the No. 1 and No. 2 tennis matches delayed due to the boys individual doubles final going to a third set, No. 3 singles and the Hornets two doubles tandems got to work and brought home a state title in quick and impressive fashion. By the time Carlson and Maura McCormick finished off Molly Armstead and Emily Martin for the decisive third point, Michelle Fuca was only in the first game of her No. 2 singles match and Brittany Collens hadn’t even started her No. 1 singles match.
“It was quite an unusual situation,” Hornets head coach Phil Logsdon said. “Especially with (Brittany and Michelle) waiting to start. But the girls were outstanding, I couldn’t be more proud of them. They all got off to great starts and they rode that momentum to clinch the win before first and second singles could even start. I can’t say enough about this team up and down the lineup.”
Kendall McCormick got things started at No. 3 singles and she made quick work of Monument Mountain’s Shea Caligari 6-1, 6-1. After winning the first set, the Hornets third singles player took a look up at the scoreboard and saw that No. 1 doubles tandem Rachel Daley and Chanel Bullock were already ahead 5-0 and Carlson and Maura McCormick were up 4-1.
Seeing her teammates doing so well made Kendall McCormick even more hungry to take down the second set.
“It was really key for me to get off to a strong start,” Kendall McCormick said. “I took a look up at the scoreboard when I got the chance and seeing my teammates playing so well gave me even more momentum going forward.”
After Kendall McCormick picked up the match’s first point, Daley and Bullock followed shortly after with an impressive straight set win 6-0, 6-2 over Monument Mountain’s Jen Evans and Cara Freadman. Monument Mountain had no answer for the Daley and Bullock’s dominance at the net in the win.
Ahead 2-0, Carlson and Maura McCormick made sure Monument Mountain was put away quickly, clinching the match with a straight set win (6-2, 6-2) just minutes after Daley and Bullock locked up the second point of the afternoon.
Like the other two matches, the No. 2 doubles tandem got off to a strong start and were able to handle anything the Monument Mountain pair threw at them.
“I think we did a better job warming up which helped us get an early lead,” Carlson said. “They bounced back and started playing well but we were focused.”
“(When we scored the winning point) I just wanted to give Molly a hug,” Maura McCormick said. “It was an awesome feeling.”
With the win already wrapped up, Collens and Fuca made quick work of their opponents as well with Collens besting Sam White at first singles 6-3, 6-1 and Fuca picking up the win over Courtney Freadman 6-0, 6-2.