By Alex Lefkowitz (Online Editor in Chief)
For the first time ever, the Sharon High School girls tennis team won the state championship after defeating the Longmeadow Lancers 3-2. With the win, the Eagles finished their 2017 campaign undefeated at 26-0.
Sharon took an early lead in the match after junior Marielle Yuan swept third singles 6-1, 6-0, finishing the season undefeated at the third singles spot.
“For the past two years, I played first singles but with the addition of two amazing players [Shukla and Zhang], I made the switch to third singles,” Yuan said. “I didn’t have too many difficult matches and I finished the season undefeated.”
Though Yuan may have breezed through her match, the same could not be said about sophomore Nupur Shukla, who lost in first singles 6-1, 6-1.
“I knew [Shukla] was going to face some really tough competition.” Yuan said. “That said, I never doubted her or any of my teammates. They are an incredible bunch.”
The strength of Longmeadow came in the first and second singles spot, so the Eagles knew that they would have to win both doubles to secure their first ever state championship. Sharon’s first doubles pair consisting of juniors Emily Wen and Katie Merport did not falter, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.
“Emily and I knew our team depended on us winning this match, and we knew we could do it,” Merport said. “We were confident in our skill and with each others encouragement, we were able to walk on the court with our heads held high and leave with our heads held higher.”
With the Eagles leading 2-1 in the match, all eyes were on the second doubles court. After winning the first set 6-3, junior Rithika Neti and freshman Sophia Fein dropped the second set 3-6. In the third and final set, Neti and Fein played their best set of the year, clinching the state title for the Eagles after Neti volleyed a shot that deflected off a Lancer out of bounds.
“I think when as soon as I hit that ball, the first word that popped into my head was ‘finally’,” Neti said. “All season long this was the goal we had talked and dreamed about.”
Neti also praised her freshman partner Sophia Fein, saying, “I was so proud of the season Sophia and I had together along with the rest of the team. It was the perfect ending to our incredible season.”
The success of this season has the potential to be very similar in the coming years as Sharon retains all seven of its starters from the championship game.
In an interview with Hockomocksports.com correspondent Andrew Cyr, Sharon athletic director commented on the bright future of the squad, saying, “They’re bringing a state championship home with a team that’s basically all going to return next year — we have one senior on the team.”
For now, however, the girls tennis team does not want to think about future championships but instead, celebrate the incredible run they just went on to become the best tennis team in the state of Massachusetts.