Class B girls tennis: Led by 10 seniors, Belchertown breaks through to capture championship with 5-0 win over St. Mary’s

The Belchertown girls tennis team captured the Western Mass. Class B title via a win over St. Mary’s on Friday at Forest Park in Springfield.

The Belchertown girls tennis team captured the Western Mass. Class B title via a win over St. Mary’s on Friday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/CONNOR PIGNATELLO

The Belchertown girls tennis team captured the Western Mass. Class B title via a win over St. Mary’s on Friday at Forest Park in Springfield.

The Belchertown girls tennis team captured the Western Mass. Class B title via a win over St. Mary’s on Friday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/CONNOR PIGNATELLO

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 05-24-2024 9:06 PM

SPRINGFIELD – Ava Shea ripped a crosscourt backhand, turned around, faced her teammates and raised her arms in the air. A wash of relief spread across her face.

Belchertown’s No. 1 singles player had just clinched the Orioles’ first Western Mass. girls tennis title since 2016.

“I can’t believe it,” Shea said after the match. “I can’t. I’m just astonished right now.”

Both Orioles doubles pairs cruised through their matches, and Shea sealed the Class B championship by putting Belchertown up 3-0. Over the next hour and a half, Belchertown’s Anna Stamp and Amanda Murray pulled out impressive wins in second and third singles marathon matches to complete the 5-0 sweep over St. Mary’s at Forest Park.

“I’m just so happy for them,” Belchertown head coach Alanna Grady said. “I’ve never wanted anything more for a group of people than I wanted it for them.”

Friday’s win was a culmination of a four-year process for Belchertown. The Orioles advanced to the final in 2021, but were swept by Longmeadow. They made it again last season, but Ludlow beat them 3-2.

Stamp, a senior captain, lost her match in last year’s championship loss. Friday’s win was a relief.

For a Belchertown team with 10 seniors, this was the year.

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“You can sit and you can enjoy it with your team because you worked your butts off to get here,” Stamp said. “It makes it that much more special… I’m going to cry I’m so proud.”

Emalee Chaisson and Mia Corish won first doubles 6-1, 6- 2, and Alena Karabetsos and Bella Cebula won their second doubles match 6-4, 6-0. Those four players, along with the Orioles reserves, joined together to cheer on their teammates for the next hour and a half. 

They started with Shea, who was up 5-0 in the second set after taking the first set 6-0. St. Mary’s No. 1 Brooke Piziak gave her a fight in the final game though, forcing four deuces before Shea finally hit the winner.

After Shea’s match, the team moved on to second singles, where Stamp was fighting a back-and-forth battle with St. Mary’s Jessica Armstrong in the second set after winning the first set 6-4. 

The two traded games until 5-5, when Stamp won a few crucial points to break Armstrong’s serve. With her whole team and a crowd of fans watching, Stamp won the 12th game of the set to secure a 6-4, 7-5 win. This was the most recent in a long line of comebacks for Stamp this season.

“I sometimes don’t even know how I do it,” Stamp said.

After Stamp’s match, the crowd gathered at third singles, where sophomore Amanda Murray was also engaged in a marathon match. After nearly three hours of tennis, Murray won the tiebreaker on the second set to win 6-3, 7-6.

The Orioles rushed to the court and mobbed her. After four years of trying, and after three hours of tennis under 85-degree heat, Belchertown completed their title quest.

“We’re so happy,” Stamp said. “This was our top goal for the season and we’ve done it. We’re all seniors, so we couldn’t be happier.”