Class C boys tennis: PVCICS cruises to 2nd straight sectional title thanks to 4-1 win over Lee

The PVCICS boys tennis team won their second consecutive Western Mass. Class C title thanks to a 4-1 victory over Lee in the final on Tuesday at Hampshire College.

The PVCICS boys tennis team won their second consecutive Western Mass. Class C title thanks to a 4-1 victory over Lee in the final on Tuesday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/CONNOR PIGNATELLO

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2024 8:42 PM

Modified: 05-28-2024 8:50 PM


AMHERST – Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School is only 16 years old, but that would actually be one of the older ages on the boys tennis team.

Buoyed by the play of stellar eighth-graders Derek and Devan Ye and sixth-grade rising star Lee Ferguson, top-seeded PVCICS wrapped up its second consecutive Western Mass. Class C title on Tuesday afternoon and extended its undefeated season to 16-0 with a 4-1 victory over No. 3 Lee in the championship match at Hampshire College.

“Our school doesn’t have a history of a ton of athletic success,” said Teddy Scott, one of three upperclassmen on the team. “Tennis has kind of been our little shining star here. We’re having fun. It’s awesome because we have a lot of young guys and not a lot of age on the team. It just feels like we’re already starting to get kind of a dynasty and we’re only going to get better.”

Sophomore Aidan Cleary was the first Dragon to finish his match, with a 6-2, 6-4 victory in first singles. Derek and Devan Ye were close behind, winning their second doubles match 6-2, 6-1. Ferguson clinched the title with a 6-0, 6-0 win in second singles and Teddy and James Scott wrapped up their first doubles match 6-3, 6-4 shortly thereafter.

Well after the other four matches had ended, Lee’s Allen Ni came back from down 8-1 in a 10-point super-tiebreaker to defeat PVCICS senior Clayton English at third singles, 5-7, 6-4, 11-9. 

“This team is so young,” PVCICS head coach Michael Locher said. “My elder statesmen here are two juniors (the Scott twins) and one senior (English). And they’ve just got a great attitude. Maybe Clayton feels the pressure a little bit, but Teddy and James keep it loose. So I think the team is loose. We’ll see what happens in the first rounds of states, but I think they’re loose – I hope they are – and if they play loose, they can play with almost anybody.”

It was PVCICS’ third time beating Lee this season. The Dragons knocked off the Wildcats 5-0 on April 26 and 4-1 on May 14. It was also their third time meeting Lee in the past three postseasons – Lee beat PVCICS 3-2 for the Class C title in 2022 and PVCICS beat Lee 5-0 in last year’s semifinals.

At first singles, Cleary said his match was a combination of his first two matches of the season against Lee No. 1 Cooper Maloney. He beat Maloney 6-4, 6-4 on April 26 and 6-0, 6-0 on May 14.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Music in the sky: Summit House Sunset Concert Series returns to its 173-year-old home
Easthampton’s 11 Ferry St. project promises affordable five-story, 96-unit complex
Knitters’ paradise: Webs, ‘America’s Yarn Store’ and a mainstay for Valley crafters for generations, turns 50
Ashfield Lake House reopening under new ownership, management
Herrell’s Ice Cream to open pop-up shop in North Amherst this summer
Yankee Candle consolidation prompts loss of 100 jobs

“It was like the first one in that I was hitting too many errors, hitting two doubles faults a game, just giving him too many points,” Cleary said. “But I also hit some crazy shots, so that made up for it a little.”

After a full season at the top spot for the Dragons, Cleary heads into state competition with only one loss on his record – to Pope Francis’ Marcus Tran.

Ferguson beat Lee’s Korey Chen 6-0, 6-0 in both earlier meetings this season and said he had noticed Chen returning lots of his shots. He made a point to be more aggressive on Thursday and swept Chen 6-0, 6-0 for the third time.

At first doubles, James and Teddy Scott tried to build on their familiarity facing Lee earlier this year and in years past.

“Those first two games, you spend a lot of time hitting with them after four sets already,” Teddy Scott said. “We’ve played some of these guys in years past, so you get pretty familiar with how they’re going to play.”

PVCICS has been a young team for some time, and the Scott twins are now in their fourth season playing for the Dragons. They said they feel like big brothers to some of their teammates. 

Winning the Western Mass. title has been PVCICS’ goal all season, but Locher didn’t expect the Dragons to close out the tournament with an undefeated record, especially with three matches against Lee and one against longtime power Longmeadow, which won the Class A title for the 25th straight year on Friday. 

“We’ll just see how far we can ride it,” Locher said.

The Dragons have advanced to the Round of 16 in the MIAA Division 4 state tournament each of the past two years, but they’ve only had one home match across those two seasons. Season-ending defeats in 2022 and 2023 were both on the road.

This year, they’re the No. 2 seed – their highest ranking ever – which means they’ll be “really well set up” for several guaranteed home matches, Locher said. After a bye in the preliminary round, PVCICS faces No. 31 West Bridgewater at Hampshire College on Thursday at 3 p.m. If the Dragons win that match, they’ll face either No. 15 Frontier (who they’ve beat twice this season) or No. 18 Nantucket in the Round of 16 with the hope of advancing to their first-ever state quarterfinal.