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CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship

 


CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Westborough celebrates winning the MIAA Division 2 championship. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

CAMBRIDGE – It's been a long time coming.

For the past three years, the Westborough boys tennis team has played in the title game, and although the Rangers came extremely close several times, championship glory eluded them. In 2021, the team dropped a 4-1 game to Brookline. In 2022, the team lost 3-2 to Concord-Carlisle. And in 2023, the Rangers dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to the Duxbury Dragons.

But it was clear from the start that this 2024 team was different. With a revamped training routine, an improved attitude and a fresh outlook on the season, Westborough's players – hungry to finally 'cross the finish line', as they said on April 5 – knew from the start they had something special. They would give everything they had to win it all.

And as the crowd gathered at MIT's duPont tennis courts on Saturday, the team did just that, exacting revenge on No. 3 Duxbury to – finally – claim the MIAA Division 2 championship. The 3-2 victory caps a 19-2 season for top-seeded Rangers as the team recorded 11 straight wins over the course of the year, with just two losses against Division 1 opponents.

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Jordan Hlawek shoots the ball. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“It feels great. It really feels great. It doesn't change how I feel about the boys, and it wouldn't have changed. They've worked hard – they've really worked hard. They've done a lot of running, we've had all season played against a lot of tough teams to prepare for a game like this. We played a lot of three and a half hour games this year against some really good opponents. I think that really paid off , and I'm very happy for them,” said Head Coach Leonard O'Neil after the game.

After nearly three hours of championship tennis, the Rangers' title hopes rested on the racket of one player: Kaden Chen. With the score tied at 2-2, the sophomore and back-to-back Mid-Wach-A MVP was locked in a No. 1 singles match with Duxbury's Tim Vargas. Chen took the first set, Vargas took the second, and soon Chen had several championship points at 5-3.

But it wasn't so easy for Chen: Vargas fought back, broke him and looked to serve for the set – and the championship – with a 6-5 lead. With the fate of the team on his shoulders and cramps in his legs, Chen somehow found the strength to break back, sending the match into a tiebreaker. Chen – who remained undefeated this season – immediately fell to the ground after clinching the title, as his teammates gleefully rushed onto the court and piled on top of him.

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Kaden Chen prepares to return the ball. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“I am incredibly grateful to them, I have been with them all season. They are almost like a second family to me, and I really appreciated all the cheering… I just focused on every point,” Chen said. “Why don't you try to win this next point?”

“[I saw] courage and determination. From a high school student, perseverance and determination. He got cramps there, he didn't give up, he kept fighting. I couldn't be more proud of him. These kids work hard; they are on the field six days a week,” O'Neil said.

Chen's heroics aside, the Rangers were involved in close games across the lineup. Srinjoy Ghosh, the team's senior captain and No. 2 singles player, came back after losing a frustrating first set to beat Duxbury's Pete Burnham (2-6, 6-3, 6-2). For Ghosh, the last player on the field after last year's heartbreaking loss to Duxbury, things had come full circle.

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Srinjoy Ghosh cuts the ball back to the Duxbury player. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“My coach always tells me that whatever happens, happens, and you just have to focus on the present. I just focused on being present in the present. I just made mistakes and I had to clean it up. I just started making my shots and going for everything – sliding around the field, chasing balls here and there. I just made sure I didn't miss the ball,” Ghosh said.

“[Ghosh] I started to get nervous because it was the same way as last year… I said, 'That was last year. You have to put the past year behind you. Who you were last year is not who you are now. Stay in the moment. Focus on what you are doing,” O’Neil explained.

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Michael Ku (left) and Tyler Lattanzio congratulate each other as they prepare for the next point. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

The Rangers were also buoyed by No. 2 doubles duo Michael Ku and Tyler Lattanzio, who defeated their Duxbury counterparts (4-6, 6-1, 7-5). Westborough was on the losing side of the two other matches, including Taylor Bettencourt's victory over Westborough's Jordan Hlawek at No. 3 singles (6-3, 6-0) and the Dragons' Tucker Catalano and Bennett Stout defeating Brendan Estaphan and Eehab fended off. Khan (4-6, 6-3, 6-3) at No. 1 doubles. All but one match went to three sets in this ultra-close matchup.

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Westborough celebrates winning the MIAA Division 2 championship. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

For three years, this Westborough team's season ended with a runner-up title. But after the Rangers celebrated on the field, posed for photos and held the Massachusetts-shaped trophy in the glowing Cambridge sun, none of those fears seemed to matter anymore.

The team once associated with 'maybe' and 'almost' can now use a different, more triumphant title.

Champion.

“It's amazing. There is no better feeling than this. We have been close so many times. This victory is sweeter than any other,” said Ghosh.

CHAMPIONS FINALLY: Westborough Boys Tennis wins the MIAA Division 2 championship
Srinjoy Ghosh gets his medal. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Sources

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2/ https://www.communityadvocate.com/2024/06/15/at-last-champions-westborough-boys-tennis-wins-miaa-division-2-championship/

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