The MIAA state tennis tournament pairings were released Wednesday and three Cape Ann teams are set to fight for a state title. Here's a look at how each of them stacks up in their respective divisions.
With a 2011 State Championship already under its belt, Manchester Essex is poised to repeat in 2012. The Hornets unblemished 11-0 mark in the Cape Ann League and 17-1 overall record earned them the No. 1 seed and a first round bye in the 2012 Division 3 North State Tennis Tournament.
The Hornets title defense starts on Monday, June 4th at 3:30pm versus the winner of No. 8 Bedford or No. 9 Academy of Notre Dame.
Don't sleep on Bedford if they get by Academy of Notre Dame, as Bedford made it to last year's Division 3 North Sectional final before losing to the Hornets in a close 3-2 battle. Fully expecting Manchester Essex to get by its first game, things get tougher down the road.
In the semi finals, the Hornets would play the winner of No. 4 Lynnfield or No. 5 Lowell Catholic. Lynnfield, a familiar CAL foe, finished with an 8-3 CAL record this year and nearly beat the Hornets in the regular season as Manchester Essex escaped with the narrow 3-2 victory.
If another championship is in the cards for the defending champs, they can expect to face No. 2 Austin Prep, No. 3 Ipswich or this year's sleeper, No. 6 Hamilton-Wenham from the other side of the bracket in the championship.
CAL All-Leaguers Michelle Fuca, Rachel Daley, Molly Carlson and the rest of the Hornets are buckled up and ready to defend their title.
Finishing with an 11-7 regular season record, Manchester Essex heads into the Division 3 North State Tennis Tournament with the No. 6 seed. The Hornets receive a bye in the first round and kick-off tournament play on June 4th at 3:30pm against familiar CAL foe Pentucket.
Monday's match between the two CAL foes should be a battle, as the teams split a pair of 3-2 decisions during the regular season. The Hornets are going to need strong play from All-League singles players Michael Fuca and Calvin Lamothe to propel them into the semi final round.
To win the championship, Manchester Essex will need to pull off some serious upsets. The Hornets can expect to play 16-4 Austin Prep if they get by Pentucket and if that isn't hard enough, they would probably play No. 1 Hamilton-Wenham in the finals. Hamilton-Wenham finished a perfect 10-0 in the CAL this year and disposed of the Hornets twice during the season.
Manchester Essex played a tough regular season schedule in preparation for the tournament, so only time will tell if they can pull off the upsets needed to win the state championship.
After losing in the first round to Cambridge in last year's 2011 North Division 2 State Tennis Championship, Gloucester is out for redemption a year later. Like last year, the Fishermen earned the No. 7 seed in this year's tournament and again play a No. 10 seed. Despite the similarities to last year, Gloucester hopes the results are much different.
The Fishermen (10-4) will be tested by CAL Division 1 Champions and No. 10 seed North Andover (tomorrow, 3:30 p.m., Gloucester High), who enters with a 10-6 record and a dominating 8-2 CAL record. If the Fishermen get by North Andover, they can expect to face 14-2 Wayland and 16-4 Burlington on their side of the bracket.
To go far in the tournament, the Fishermen need outstanding play from Cody Marshall, who anchors the No. 1 singles position. No. 2 singles Lorenzo Colosanti and the No. 2 duo of Cam Davis and Pat Kelly both sport undefeated records and will need to stay unblemished for Gloucester to be a serious threat.