NEWTON — The stage is set for the Division 1 boys tennis state championships and neither team has lost a match yet this season.
No. 1 Brookline (23-0) took down No. 4 Wellesley 4-1 while No. 3 Lexington (24-0) squeezed by No. 2 St. John’s Prep 3-2 to advance to the state final at MIT on Saturday.
For Brookline, this is a chance to avenge a loss in last year’s state championship, while the Minutemen revel in finally advancing out of the semifinal.
Lexington reached the state championship in 2016 but has otherwise struggled to advance out of the semifinal round for much of the past decade. Head coach Chris Pugliese said he is thrilled for his players.
“We’ve had some bad luck in the semis, I’m not going to lie,” Pugliese said. “It’s good for the kids to see that they can get to the state title because they have been heartbroken.”
The key to the Minutemen’s victory came from the second doubles, which took consecutive sets and put the first victory on the board for Lexington. Pugliese was thrilled with this turn, as the position lost to the Eagles earlier in the season.
“Two doubles impressed me,” Pugliese said. “I didn’t expect them to come first off the court, that was good to see.”
The second point came from top singles player Joel McCandless, and the senior captain was ecstatic to finally reach the state championship.
“This is momentous for us,” McCandless said. “It’s a position we’ve never been in and as long as we stay grounded and remember what we are her to do. Having a few laughs along the way helps us out.”
On the other set of courts at Newton South High School, the Warriors grinded out four consecutive victories to clinch the berth in the final. Head coach Mike Mowatt credited the success to excellent play right out of the gate.
“I thought my guys got off to good starts,” Mowatt said. “I knew it was going to be a competitive match, but we had the confidence going in.”
Mowatt says the team will now turn its attention to some tune-up scrimmages before facing the Minutemen. He said the main focus will be confidence.
“In the finals last year, we were a little hesitant,” Mowatt said. “I saw a lot of confident strokes right from the start today. If they do that against Lexington, we should have a pretty good chance.”
Senior Owen Eskey echoed that statement, saying that his team is capable of victory if it keeps focused.
“A lot of it for us is mental,” Eskey said. “Maybe we got a little tight last year, we need to let loose and play our best tennis in the final.”
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