Class B boys tennis: Belchertown falls to East Longmeadow in title match, shifts focus to state tourney

The Belchertown boys tennis team poses with the Western Mass. Class B runner-up trophy following a 4-1 defeat to East Longmeadow in Friday evening’s title match at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham.

The Belchertown boys tennis team poses with the Western Mass. Class B runner-up trophy following a 4-1 defeat to East Longmeadow in Friday evening’s title match at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham. STAFF PHOTO/GARRETT COTE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-24-2024 9:05 PM

WILBRAHAM — The entire No. 3 Belchertown boys tennis team sat behind the fence of the third singles court where sophomore Luke Dudek battled with No. 4 East Longmeadow’s Ryan Kulla.

Trailing 3-1 on the team scoreboard with just the one match remaining, the Orioles knew they had already lost their chance at a Western Mass. Class B championship, but senior captain Trevor Weiss kept everyone in it.

Weiss, who breezed to a 6-1, 6-1 win at first singles earlier in the day, coached up Dudek right before his second set went to a tiebreak. And although Dudek ultimately fell to Kulla, giving the Spartans a 4-1 win and their first sectional title in program history, Weiss’ gesture perfectly encapsulated Belchertown head coach Zach Siano’s four years with him.

“We have a special relationship, especially because Trevor was my captain as well for soccer,” Siano said. “So to have him as a two-year captain for tennis and a captain for soccer, we’ve just grown so close over that time. At the end of the match, he’s coaching our third singles guy, he’s doing whatever he can. He knows that the match is already lost, and he could pout or be upset about things, but his character shows day-in and day-out.”

The lone senior on the team, Weiss is the only player departing from Belchertown’s team once its MIAA Division 3 state tournament run – which will start with a home match next week given the Orioles’ No. 18 ranking – is over.

However, Siano is also likely walking away with Weiss after a dozen years leading Belchertown’s tennis program – where its been to eight Western Mass. title tilts in the last nine years.

He and his wife are expecting their first baby in June, so to free up some more time to spend with his soon-to-be family of three, Siano is passing the torch to another coach.

What a perfect ending to go out with the best player he’s ever had.

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“I’ve been doing this for 12 or 13 years, but this is most likely going to be my [last year coaching tennis],” Siano said. “My first year ever, I might have had my best player ever in Kevin Lindhult, and what I know now is my best player ever in Trevor Weiss is a nice book-end. It’s been a great run with this program. We’ll see where the wind takes us, but Trevor and I had a handshake agreement that this would be our last ride.”

A season ago, Belchertown won just seven matches, going 7-9. Turnarounds like the one from last spring to this spring aren’t too common. The Orioles are now 15-5 heading into the state tournament, and most of their roster picked up a tennis racket for the first time in 2023.

There was no long rebuilding phase after one down year. Belchertown was right back where it belongs – playing for Western Mass. hardware.

“It’s really special,” Weiss said. “All of these guys never played tennis before last year. We had a decent season [last year], but then having this season, only losing a couple of times, somehow making it to the Western Mass. finals, a bunch of kids who have never played tennis before, it’s really cool.”

East Longmeadow’s William Beagle got the best of Orioles sophomore Graham Guardenfield at second singles, winning the match 6-1, 6-0.

At third singles, Dudek put up a fight after dropping the first set 6-3. Dudek came from behind to take a 6-5 set lead before Kulla forced the tiebreak. The sophomore came up clutch for Belchertown in its Class B semifinal win over Pope Francis on Tuesday, and he was on the cusp of another big win on Friday.

“To see Luke go out there at third singles and leave it all out there [was awesome],” Siano said. “He was our deciding point [in the Class B semifinal] against Pope Francis. I figured if we were going to win, we were gonna have to secure both Trevor and Luke’s point and try and find a way at doubles. It didn’t shake out that way, but Luke is right where I thought he was gonna be.”

The senior-heavy Spartans nabbed both doubles wins on Friday, with Jack Serafini and Samuel Sares defeating Belchertown’s Tyler Burrows and Camryn Kaczowka at first doubles, 6-3, 6-1, and Will DeVoie and Andrew Lonczak getting the best of Jake Gormely and Mason Pobieglo at second doubles, 6-1, 6-3.

Siano was pleased with the improvements of his two tandems considering they only won one game combined when the two teams met back on April 24 – exactly one month ago Friday.

“Our doubles teams have come a long way,” Siano said. “If you look at our first match with these guys to today, it’s totally different. Some of the scores aren’t totally indicative of how those points played out.”