It was a true clash of the titans on Tuesday in the Division 3 North Finals between the Manchester Essex and Weston girls tennis teams.
The second-seed Hornets and top-seeded Wildcats both came in undefeated and took part in a marathon match that featured three matches going to a third set and the decisive point decided by a third set tie breaker.
After nearly three hours, it was Weston that came away with a 3-2 win to capture the Division 3 North crown and dethrone the defending state champions.
"I was hoping for 3-2 in the other direction, but we did very well against a team that we weren't expected to challenge," said Hornets head coach Ken Rawson, whose team finishes up the season at 16-1. "I'm proud of our performance."
With the match tied, 2-2, the decisive point came at No. 1 doubles, where Weston's Michele Joseph and Jackie Liu battled Manchester Essex's A-4ndrea Rennie Tatum Jobe in a three-set match that came down to the wire. Joseph and Liu took the first set, 4-6, but Rennie and Jobe bounced back to take a highly competitive second set, 7-5.
In the third set, the teams again took it down to the wire, but Joseph and Liu outlasted their opponents for a 7-5 win, which clinched the Weston victory.
No. 1 singles was also a high speed, high intensity match between Manchester Essex's Olivia Mariotti and Weston's Kayla Leschly, two USTA Jr. players. Leschy started off hot, winning three straight games to take the first set (1-6), but Mariotti retaliated with a 6-4 second set win. Leschy took a 2-1 lead in the third set, but Mariotti finished strong, winning the final five games to take the three-set thriller, 6-2.
"I wanted to dig deep, see what I could do and win for my team," Mariootti said. "Kayla's an aggressive player so I tried to keep the pint and dictate off my forehand. Mentally, I kept going and fought hard in case she gave up and got down."
Manchester Essex's other win came at No. 2 doubles, with jessie Miller and Emily Andrews pulling out a win. Weston took second and third doubles to take an early 2-0 lead in the match.