The Warriors finally had their big day in 2016.
The third time proved to be the charm as Foxboro scored a 3-2 win over Wayland to claim the program’s first ever Division 2 State Championship.
Foxboro won at second and third singles as well as first doubles to clinch the title.
“This is unbelievable,” Foxboro coach Jon Montanaro said. “[Coach CJ Neely] and I just jumped in a few short weeks before the end of the regular season and these girls, their work ethic every day, the way they play, it definitely translates to the court. I’m so glad that it ended up paying off for them in the long run, especially coming in here the past two years and coming up just short. All the work they did all season paid off and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Wayland scored the first point of the match, getting a 6-0, 6-2 win at second doubles over Foxboro’s Michaela McCarthy and Olivia Dantona. But Foxboro was able to level it at 1-1 when sophomore Sophia Prinos – who trailed just once at 1-2 in the second set – scored a 6-1. 6-3 win at second singles.
“Coach Neely likes to call her an assassin when she goes out there,” Montanaro said of Sophia Prinos. “She has the mental toughness and then she just overpowers people. Her shots have such power and great top spin. She’s a great player and I can’t wait to see her grow more next year, I think she’s going to be one of the top players in the state.”
Junior Lexi Nelson put the Warriors ahead 2-1, winning in straight sets at 6-4, 6-3. At that point, all eyes turned to first doubles with Foxboro sophomore Kayla Prag and freshman Julia Muise holding a one set lead.
Muise and Prag won 7-6 (7-4 tiebreaker) in a thrilling first set. It was back and forth in second set, with Foxboro going up 2-1, then 3-2, then 4-3. The teams traded wins to get to 5-5 before the Warriors were able to inch ahead at 6-5. Muise and Prag then finished the match, up 40-30, with the sophomore swatting home the state championship-clinching shot while at the net.
The duo was all smiles and greeted each other with a big hug, celebrating what they thought was just their first win of the playoffs this season. It wasn’t until teammates rushed onto the court to celebrate that the team knew it was more than just that.
“We had no idea,” Prag admitted. “When everyone started running on the court and hugging us, I realized we had just won states. It was really good to finally win one because we had come so close in all of our playoff matches. Finally, the cards had really fallen for us and we were happy we just stayed calm and pushed through and got it.”
Muise and Prag had taken a 2-1 lead in the first but saw the advantage evaporate when Wayland’s pairing of Arielle Friedman and Elena Erdekian won four straight sets. Foxboro was able to battle back, tying it at 5-5 then going up 6-5 before heading to the tiebreak.
“The mental toughness of that team was unbelievable,” Montanaro said. “The last few weeks, they’ve been close. They’ve been been playing tough matches all year. They’ve been knocking at the door, I’m they were finally able to bust through at the right time.”
“We had known each other before but we’ve really connected as a doubles team,” Prag said. “I think throughout the season we’ve become not just two people but one person. We know how each other work and how we play and I think that really helped us, especially today.
“It’s so important if you’re to play doubles to have your partner be someone you can rely on. I couldn’t imagine not having Julia there with me to win this. I couldn’t have done it without her. We complement each other well because I’m more serious and sometimes I get frustrated easily but she’s always happy, she always smiles so that calms me down because I know she’ll always be there to cheer me up.”
Foxboro senior and Hockomock League MVP Diana Prinos suffered a 6-3 loss in the first set but battled back from a 3-2 deficit in the second to get a 7-5 win and force a super tiebreaker. Prinos took an early lead but a disputed out call wasn’t overturned and Wayland’s Izzy Essi took the last point of the match.
This team’s very deep and very close,” Montanaro said. “A lot of the players help each other out at practice everyday and I think that shows when they go into these matches. They have experience too and I think that plays a big role, especially when you’re here, on this stage.”
Foxboro girls tennis finishes its historic season with a record of 19-2.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.