By Dan Harrison
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — The Swampscott and Weston High boys’ tennis teams may both be Division 3, since the schools have a similar number of male students.
But the Wildcats are a Division 1 talent, according to Swampscott head coach Neil Whitehouse, and that was evident yesterday when visiting Weston shut out the Big Blue, 5-0, in the North Division 3 semifinals.
“Take nothing away from Weston, but this was heartbreaking in the sense that, in my mind, they’re Division 1 but because they have 700 students they play in our Division,” said Whitehouse, whose team finished the season 18-2. “But their program is made up of schooled players who are USTA (United States Tennis Association) players. The comparison of competitive levels between us and them would be like putting us up against a Division 1 team.”
The Wildcats (15-2) swept the doubles matches as Alec Been/Will Talcott defeated Swampscott’s Sam Crimmins/Matt Gilberg, 6-3, 6-3, at first doubles while Joe Wagner/Jack Fleckner took down Ian Crimmins/Mike Pindrus 6-2, 6-2. Sam Crimmins and Gilberg looked as if they would take over momentum during their match, but a great diving return by Been seemed to stymie the Big Blue duo.
Been’s miraculous shot was one of many hit by the Wildcats yesterday. Second singles Leland Ko hit a viscous, through-the-legs return against Swampscott senior Val Temin in a match Ko won, 6-0, 6-2, while third singles senior Ben Spector didn’t miss much in his 6-0, 6-0 victory over sophomore Sam Carmosino.
“We play tough schools throughout the season,” said Wildcats head coach George Conlin. “We played Wayland, the defending Division 2 champs, twice and we (split). I think we learned a lot in that loss. We’re seasoned because we’ve played tough matches.”
Weston completed the sweep when Ethan Chen was finally able to defeat Big Blue freshman Matt Jacobs 5-7, 6-3 and 10-5 in the tiebreak. It was a fantastic match with two extremely gifted players. Jacobs is the Big Blue’s most experienced player, having been on the courts since he was seven and his skill showed despite the loss, which featured his first lost set of the season.
Jacobs almost never hits the ball when he’s off balance and plays a very patient game along the baseline. Jacob’s skill and Temin’s relentlessness were the two biggest positives for Swampscott.
Temin hadn’t won a game, but with the second set (and the match on the line), he was able to win two games off of sheer determination before Ko finally clinched the victory for Weston.
“I’m proud of my guys. Matt’s only lost 7-8 games all season. He’s so well-schooled that he knows where to be on the court, how to put his opponent in trouble and then how to take advantage,” said Whitehouse. “Val is the heart of this team; he’s the ultimate competitor. He will do well in life because he has an emotional maturity beyond most high school kids.”
In other local tennis tournament action yesterday, both the Swampscott and Marblehead girls teams saw their seasons come to an end in the Division 2 North semifinals. Swampscott (17-4) dropped a 4-1 decision to top-seeded Concord-Carlisle, 4-1, while the Magicians of Marblehead (20-3) were swept by Winchester, 5-0.