Perfect end for Needham
Undefeated Rockets dispatch St. John’s
WORCESTER - St. John’s Shrewsbury’s boys’ tennis team had the daunting task of taking down a Needham squad that hasn’t lost since 2010.
The defending champion Rockets, with a 41-0 record over the past two seasons, continued to soar, winning the Division 1 state final, 3-2, at Clark University.
“Winning is just awesome, we’ve got such a great group of kids,’’ said Needham coach Drew Lawrence, whose team is 20-0. “We came out and played aggressively, and we also got really quick leads in doubles, and that helped us. I think we were clearly on top of our game at both doubles positions and at first singles, where Aaron Revzin was outstanding. It wasn’t like we got momentum and kept it the whole time. But we were solid throughout.’’
“They’re a very good team and they’re well-coached,’’ said St. John’s coach Ed Hippert, whose Pioneers finished 20-5. “We knew doubles was going to be a stiff hurdle for us. Their doubles are mature. Our first doubles, especially, is still maturing, so they’re just a speck below them. But I thought our first doubles played them well and they’re really coming along.
“We had a great season and look forward to the future, we’ve got everybody coming back.’’
With a 2-0 lead, Needham got the match-clinching point from senior Revzin, who knocked off junior Chris Ellis at first singles, 6-1, 6-1. Revzin was on target in all facets, smashing approach shots, crunching serves and playing strong on the baseline.
Ellis, the Central Mass. individual singles champion, is the only player to defeat Revzin this year, winning last month’s match, 6-2, 6-2.
“The match came down to big points and he just played very well,’’ Ellis said. “It’s tough to lose and I’m upset, but I’m not that upset. He just played a very good match. I thought I played pretty well in all aspects of my game. But he served better than I did and was able to get the big points.
“I play him again on Saturday [state individual singles finals],’’ Ellis said. “I won last time, he won this time. Hopefully, I’ll win Saturday.’’
The Rockets swept both doubles matches to grab a quick 2-0 lead. Matt Bejian and Mo Lipman toppled Wes Arnold and Dave Hennessey at first doubles, 6-2, 6-2. Mitchell Silverman and Ben Okonow defeated Mitch Axelson and Alden Hosmer at second doubles, 6-1, 6-0.
The Pioneers scored both their points in singles. Dylan Fletcher edged Aaron Segel at second singles in a super tiebreaker. Lucas Tata downed Sam Cohen at third singles, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
“The outcome of the match was a letdown, but we felt good and at least it wasn’t 5-0 like last year,’’ said Tata. “We’re making progress. We have the same team next year, so we’re hopeful. I’m feeling good about next season and I think the other players feel the same way. We know we played great this year. But Needham has a tough team. Hopefully, we’ll all get better and be back here next year and hopefully win it all.’’