Lee Girls Top Monument Mountain in Sectional Semi-Final
LEE, Mass. -- The Lee girls tennis team went into Wednesday one win away from the Western Massachusetts title match.
And they were playing in front of their home fans.
That is plenty of motivation for any team. But a little local rivalry doesn't hurt.
Lee defended their turf and moved on to Thursday's sectional final with a 4-1 win over Monument Mountain.
Rachel Wendling secured the team win when she earned Lee's third point with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Eve McDougall at second singles.
"Me and [McDougall] used to be friends because she used to go to Lee," Wendling said. "It was definitely new playing against someone I knew. But it also adds some incentive because you do know them.
"I guess it matters more."
The Wildcats and Spartans know each other from the Berkshire County circuit, and Lee coach Norma Comalli knew what to expect coming into Wednesday's semi-final.
"I was really very nervous because they're a good team," Comalli said. "You can never count out Monument Mountain. "Hannah [White] is a great coach. So I didn't really know what was going to happen.
"Of course, I didn't let the girls know how nervous I was. I just put the players I thought were going to work well together today, and they all did their jobs."
The first players off the court were Lee's victorious second doubles combination of Shae Kelly and Maeve Finnegan, who won, 5-2, 6-0, over Dahn Yook and Carly Sturgis.
At No. 1 doubles, Lee's Sophie Herman and Lauren Durken topped Marti Cunningham and Kyla Floyd, 6-4, 6-2.
The day's longest match was at No. 3 singles, where Cindy Ni prevailed over Isa DeFelice, 6-3, 6-3 to provide the final margin of victory.
Monument's point came from Makayla Wax, who finished the spring without losing a match, beating Caroline Maloney, 6-0, 6-2.
By the time the No. 2 singles match ended, there were just two matches on the court, and Lee had a 2-1 lead. Wendling said she was aware that she had a chance to put the match away.
"Normally, whenever I have a break, I like to support other people out there and watch how they're doing," she said. "I feel like, depending on how other people are doing, it pushes me to play harder. If we need it, if I have to win the match, it pushes me harder."
As the competitive matches wound down, the six-court complex continued to see action as Lee players who did not make Wednesday's lineup took advantage of the beautiful early summer weather to work on their games.
For Comalli, it is a luxury to have depth in a sport where some programs around the county this spring struggled to fill out a lineup card.
"It's really great that we have 14 kids on the team," she said. "A lot of them started playing tennis in seventh grade, and now they're juniors and seniors and sophomores, and some of them play in the summer.
"That's why we make this a no-cut sport, so you grow the sport. Tennis is hard. It's not something you can learn in two days. So I'm very lucky that they have stuck around. I'm hoping we can recruit a few more."