By Nick Curcuru
---- — The Manchester Essex boys tennis team is always a team to be reckoned with in the shark tank that is the Cape Ann League. This spring, however, the Hornets have taken their game to the next level.
Boasting a talent roster that has turned from young and up-and-coming to experienced and savvy, Manchester Essex sports a perfect 13-0 record following Friday’s dominant 4-1 win over Pentucket, a team that has historically been a thorn in its side.
“The guys had seen this team before and they knew what they were up against,” Hornets head coach Rob Bilsbury said. “We game planned and executed well like we have all season.”
Bilsbury’s squad was led by its singles players as the Hornets swept the singles matches dropping just two games amongst the three.
No. 1 singles Mike Fuca won 6-1, 6-0, No. 2 singles Calvin Lamothe won 6-0, 6-1 and seventh grader Sam Girian won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. The singles trio has been a force all year for Manchester Essex as Fuca and Lamothe were both All League selections in 2012 and have improved since while Girian has proved that he can hang with anyone despite the fact that he’s a middle schooler. Friday was no different as they made quick work of a solid Pentucket singles trio.
“It’s a testament to these three guys giving each other a tough go at practice,” Bilsbury said. “Mike and Calvin have been my No. 1 and No. 2 for four years now and Sam is a special talent. It’s nice to have that.”
The No. 2 doubles tandem of Colin Babikian and Jake Rich also picked up a win on Friday 6-2, 6-4.
With two matches to go in the regular season the Hornets have clinched the Cape Ann League Small title and have their sites set on the state tournament. Manchester Essex made noise in the postseason last spring and with the same core group of players returning this spring, the team has what it takes to make a big splash in the Division 2 North sectional.
“This is such a great, talented group of kids,” Bilsbury said. “They stay on top of each other during games and they battle each other at practice and that’s such a luxury. This team is focused, deep and they know what it takes to win, that’s a nice combination.”