Tennis: Seniors power Belchertown girls past South Hadley, into Class B final (PHOTOS)

Belchertown’s Ava Shea returns a shot against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Ava Shea returns a shot against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Ava Shea returns a shot against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Ava Shea returns a shot against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Estella Estrada returns a shot against Belchertown’s Ava Shea while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

South Hadley’s Estella Estrada returns a shot against Belchertown’s Ava Shea while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Estella Estrada returns a shot against Belchertown’s Ava Shea while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

South Hadley’s Estella Estrada returns a shot against Belchertown’s Ava Shea while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Ava Shea serves against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Ava Shea serves against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Ava Shea returns a shot against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Ava Shea returns a shot against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Amanda Murray serves against South Haldey’s Anna Agudelo while competing in the No. 3 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Amanda Murray serves against South Haldey’s Anna Agudelo while competing in the No. 3 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Mia Corish returns a shot while competing with Emalee Chaisson against South Hadley’s Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso in the No. 1 doubles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Mia Corish returns a shot while competing with Emalee Chaisson against South Hadley’s Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso in the No. 1 doubles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Estella Estrada returns a shot against Belchertown’s Ava Shea while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

South Hadley’s Estella Estrada returns a shot against Belchertown’s Ava Shea while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso compete against Belchertown’s Emalee Chaisson and Mia Corish in the No. 1 doubles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

South Hadley’s Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso compete against Belchertown’s Emalee Chaisson and Mia Corish in the No. 1 doubles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Emalee Chaisson serves while competing with Mia Corish against South Hadley’s Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso in the No. 1 doubles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Emalee Chaisson serves while competing with Mia Corish against South Hadley’s Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso in the No. 1 doubles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Anna Stamp lunges for a shot against South Hadley’s Yanna Stefoglo while competing in the No. 2 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Anna Stamp lunges for a shot against South Hadley’s Yanna Stefoglo while competing in the No. 2 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Ava Shea serves against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Ava Shea serves against South Hadley’s Estella Estrada while competing in the No. 1 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Yanna Stefoglo returns a shot against Belchertown’s Anna Stamp while they compete in the No. 2 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

South Hadley’s Yanna Stefoglo returns a shot against Belchertown’s Anna Stamp while they compete in the No. 2 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Anna Stamp serves against South Hadley’s Yanna Stefoglo while competing in the No. 2 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Anna Stamp serves against South Hadley’s Yanna Stefoglo while competing in the No. 2 singles match during the Western Mass. Class B girls tennis semifinals Wednesday in Belchertown. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 05-22-2024 9:32 PM

BELCHERTOWN – Four years ago, Belchertown girls tennis advanced all the way to the Western Mass. Class B championship match, only to be swept by Longmeadow.

Last year, they made it back, but lost a heartbreaker to Ludlow, 3-2.

This year, after handling No. 4 South Hadley 5-0 in Wednesday’s semifinal round, the No. 1 Orioles and their core of 10 seniors are heading back to the Western Mass. championship for the third time in four seasons. The Orioles will face the winner of Friday’s match between No. 2 Pittsfield and No. 3 St Mary’s.

“It’s so special to have that opportunity to go for that title again,” Belchertown head coach Alanna Grady said. “We have a lot of accolades, we have a lot of good records playing against great teams, especially this year. I think the competition across the league, across the matches we’ve played has raised a whole lot. We’re happy to have that opportunity to go for that title so we can hopefully add that to our resume.”

Led by those 10 seniors, Belchertown has steadily improved its record each year. The Orioles are 17-3 this season and 8-0 in the Valley Wheel, with their only losses coming to Valley League teams Longmeadow, Minnechaug and Westfield.

Springfield College commit and No. 1 singles player Ava Shea is one of those 10 seniors, and she led the charge against South Hadley, winning her match 6-0, 6-0. Now in her third year at the top of the Orioles’ ladder, Shea has only dropped two matches all season.

She said she’s been working on angles and predicting her opponents’ next move to become a more cerebral player. She also said she’s been seeing lots of improvement in her backhand compared to her play a season ago.

“I feel like I’ve improved a lot,” Shea said. “I worked so hard in the offseason on everything and I’ve learned to better control the ball.”

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Second and third singles players Anna Stamp and Amanda Murray followed Shea’s lead and each won their matches 6-1, 6-1. In first doubles, Emalee Chaisson and Mia Corish defeated Abby Ngure and Madi Bruso 6-2, 6-1. And in second doubles, Kasey Gibbons and Alexa Karabetsos beat Grace O’Shea and Cara Dean 6-4, 6-2.

First-year South Hadley head coach Kelly Gearin was happy to see the Tigers make the Western Mass. Tournament. A few years ago, they had just a few players, and they finished with just four wins last season. They have a chance to double that mark in a regular season makeup match at Pope Francis on Thursday.

“They definitely outplayed us but I liked seeing the hustle from my girls,” Gearin said. “It’s always a learning experience playing against high-level teams.”

Class A semis

No. 1 Longmeadow 4, No. 4 Amherst 1 – Second doubles pair Janaki Ewoton and Elena Ruiz didn’t win a game in their first set, but came back to win 0-6, 7-5, 10-8 to pick up the ‘Canes lone win of the day against the undefeated Lancers – the top team in the state Division 2 rankings.

Amherst was ranked No. 19 in Tuesday’s Division 2 power rankings. The state tourney bracket will be released on Saturday and the first day of matches is Tuesday.

 Boys tennis

Class A semis

No. 2 Northampton 5, No. 3 Amherst 0 – The Blue Devils beat the ‘Canes at Smith College on Wednesday for the third time this season to advance to the Class A championship match.

Northampton also beat Amherst in last year’s Class B championship.

Northampton will face No. 1 Longmeadow for the Class A title. They’ve played twice this year, with Longmeadow scoring identical 3-2 wins earlier this month.

Northampton’s Reilly Fowles defeated Elias Katsaros 6-0, 6-0 in first singles. Amherst’s usual No. 1, Miles Jeffries, had taken three of four sets from Fowles this season, but did not play.

In second singles, Galen Fowles defeated Oliver Handsell 6-0, 6-0. In third singles, Durrell Patrick beat Jackson Barber-Just 6-1, 6-0.

Northampton’s Oliver Levine and Reed O’Connor knocked off Amherst’s Amitav Dhingra and Alexander Probezinsky 6-1, 6-1 in first doubles, and Kaz Sugihara and Eli Wool won 6-3, 6-2 over Walter Phillips and Timothy Sun in second doubles.

Non-playoff matches

Girls tennis

Frontier 3, Chicopee 2 — Hashini Ratnatunge pulled off a marathon win in first singles, 6-3, 4-6, 10-6, and Is abella Sibley won 6-3, 6-2 in second singles. Esther Ehle and Kayla Fagan won their second doubles match 6-0, 8-6.