The finals of the New England Championships: Groton loses in a very tight match!
The finals of the Class "A" New England Championships were held today at Groton. The team was the #1 seed, squaring off against Hopkins, the #2 seed. The match was simply amazing for many reasons. It started outside on a sunny afternoon, yet it had to be finished indoors when storm clouds rolled in. Hopkins also looked almost unbeatable during the doubles. Groton, however, bounced back strongly in singles so that the outcome was up in the air until the very end of the match.
In doubles, though Groton's powerhouse #3 team of Griffin Gura and Jack Lionette won decisively, Hopkins was simply too tough at # 1 and # 2, defeating Larry Li / Will Vrattos and Trip Wight / Michael Lu. Hopkins 1 - Groton 0.
In singles, the feel was different. # 3 Griffin Gura raced out to a lead in each set, and won his contest in a sparkling display of accuracy and power. Groton 1-Hopkins 1. Meanwhile, the action was back and forth on all other courts. #1 Trip Wight won his first set; #2 Larry Li lost his first set; #4 Will Vrattos won his first set; both #5 Jack Lionette and #6 Michael Lu lost theirs.
And then the clouds arrived. And raindrops started to fall. The match had to be moved indoors, where the girls varsity and JV squads were battling Milton Academy. Both Groton and Hopkins took a short breather, waiting for the JV match to conclude on the Pratt Courts. Then the boys resumed play.
The first match that finished indoors was Michael Lu’s, who lost in straight sets. Hopkins 2-Groton 1. Yet, on the court next door, Will Vrattos was involved in an extremely close and exciting match. When his opponent won the second set, the match headed into a 10 point tiebreaker. Fortunately, Will prevailed, 10-8, and the score now stood, Groton 2-Hopkins 2.
Three matches remained. Larry Li was the next to finish. He lost a very, very close match, 5-7, 5-7. So many beautifully played points! Hopkins 3-Groton 2.
The match would then come down to #1 Trip Wight and #5 Jack Lionette. Each boy had split sets. A ten-point tiebreaker would begin on each court. Trip's tiebreaker was so exciting. The lead went back forth many times until the boys were tied at 9-9! Trip then saved a number of match points before he finally lost, 12-10. Hopkins had just clinched the match, 4-2.
Consequently, Jack Lionette's contest was then halted. He had been in the exact same position a year earlier, when Groton lost in the finals to Brunswick, when two ten-point tiebreakers were also deciding the match's outcome.
A wonderful feature of today's match was a terrific turnout of students, faculty and staff, who all came to offer enthusiastic support of this squad. Their presence and love for the team were evident throughout the long afternoon.
At the end of the day, Señor Conner commented, "I simply cannot find the words to express my pride in this very special group of Groton athletes. They, once again, rose to the very top of New England tennis. Being the top seed in a very strong division is impressive, and today they came within a whisker of winning the crown. The boys showed amazing courage, great sportsmanship, and love for each other and their school. And to have so many fans there -- including Headmaster and Mrs Maqubela -- from start to finish was special indeed."
One match remains: St Mark's this Friday. Go, Zebras!