The Manchester Essex girls tennis team has waited a year to get another crack at Bedford.
The Hornets and Buccaneers met in each of the last two postseasons and it was Bedford who was victorious in the last meeting taking a 3-2 win in the 2012 Division 3 North Quarterfinals.
Wednesday’s third tilt between the two teams in the Division 3 North Semifinals at the Manchester Memorial Tennis courts pitted the two favorites in the section, and the match lived up to its billing. In the end, the Hornets turned out to be the superior team bumping off the defending state champs 3-2.
“It was a great day of tennis,” Hornets head coach Phil Logsdon said. “The level of play on both teams was so strong. (Bedford) played valiantly but the girls were on their game today.”
With the win, Manchester Essex (19-0) now moves on to the Division 3 North Finals where it will meet the winner of today’s semifinal tilt between No. 3 Lynnfield and No. 7 Weston (time and date TBA).
The Hornets are now hoping history repeats itself. In each of the last two seasons, the winner of the Manchester Essex and Bedford match went on to win the Division 3 State Championship, the Hornets taking the title in 2011 and the Buccaneers winning it all in 2012.
The Lady Hornets picked up the win on Wednesday by sweeping the singles matches. Brittany Collens won at the No. 1 spot (6-0, 6-3), Michelle Fuca pitched a shutout at the No. 2 slot (6-0, 6-0) while Kendall McCormick won a close, back and forth match at the No. 3 spot over Bedford’s Dotty Arsenault (6-3, 6-4).
“There was a lot of back and forth tennis in Kendall’s match,” Logsdon said. “She came in with her swooping volley to win a lot of long points. Bedford’s No. 1 and No. 2 players were both great but Brittany and Michelle were greater. They were a buzz saw.”
Bedford’s Hailey Millar and Tess Gong topped Manchester Essex’s Molly Carlson and Maura McCormick at No. 2 doubles (6-3, 6-4).
The match of the day was at No. 1 doubles as Bedford’s Sarah Cowles and Melissa Landman edged Rachel Daley and Chanel Bullock in three sets (6-2, 1-6, 11-9). With the match already set, the tandems played a tie breaker set in the third set and the teams hit big shot after big shot with the Buccaneers tandem just squeaking by with the win.
“The match was already set but the two teams played so well they had the fans on the edge of their seats,” Logsdon said.
The Hornets now turn their attention to the Weston vs. Lynnfield tilt. Both teams boast strong resumes, but Manchester Essex would love to see an all Cape Ann League final against the Pioneers.
“They’re both good tennis teams,” Logsdon said. “We don’t care who we end up playing but it would be nice to see two Cape Ann League teams in the final.”