Mount Greylock Depth Keys Western Mass Tournament Win

By Stephen Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Oriana Van Slyke and Emma Stankiewicz have helped take the Mount Greylock girls tennis team a long way.
On Wednesday afternoon, they helped take the Mounties back to the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarter-finals.
Van Slyke and Stankiewicz teamed up for a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles to clinch what became a 5-0 win over St. Mary’s in the first round of the sectional tournament.
Sixth-seeded Mount Greylock (9-5) moves on to the round of eight at No. 3 Greenfield (15-0) on Thursday afternoon.
Three years ago, when Van Slyke and Stankiewicz were freshmen, sectional quarter-finals were out of reach.
“It’s amazing to have come from something so small,” said Stankiewicz, who, along with her doubles partner, will graduate on Saturday morning. “When we were in ninth grade playing second doubles, we never thought we’d be up here in Western Mass, playing first doubles with amazing teammates.
“They’ve really improved. They’ve spent a lot of time and money going to tennis camps and put in the time.”
Stankiewicz and Van Slyke won, 6-1, 6-1, to give Mount Greylock one of its five straight-set wins on the day.
At second doubles, Izzy Leonard and Olivia Winters won, 6-2, 6-1.
In singles play: No. 1 Mia Van Deurzen won, 6-2, 6-4; No. 2 Charlotte Sanford won, 6-1, 6-1; and No. 3 Hannah Gilooly won, 6-2, 6-1.
The key to Mount Greylock’s success this year has been its depth. Although Mounties coach John Jacobbe notes that his team had depth last year as well, even though much of the attention went to Isabel Northington, who moved into the district for one year and went to the quarter-finals of the Western Mass individual tournament.
“Last year, we had a true No. 1 player move in, and she helped our team grow a lot and gave us some confidence,” Jacobbe said. “A lot of people last year said, 'You're doing well because you have a top player.' And I told them, 'It takes a team to win in tennis.'
“I think it's awesome to get to the same level, if not further, with the girls returning. Our No. 1 player who moved in for a year moved out, and yet we're in the same spot. That's due to the dedication of the nine varsity girls who came back.”
Jacobbe said his players have been able to push one another in practice and compete for spots in the lineup, and that internal competition has paid off.
“We have depth,” he said. “All year, our difference between our No. 1 singles and our No. 7 doubles is not huge. They all can hit with each other. In years past, the difference was huge.
“Hannah [Gilooly] and Charlotte [Sanford], have played doubles. They always wanted to play singles, and I told them, 'Keep playing, keep playing, keep playing.' And actually, I think doubles makes you, eventually, a better singles player. And both of them, in the last week of challenge matches moved ahead to No. 2 and No. 3.”
Such is Mount Greylock’s depth that Jacobbe was able to rest Josie Dalsin, who came into the year as the team’s No. 1 singles player, in Wednesday’s post-season opener. He said Dalsin will be back in the lineup on Thursday against the Green Wave.
In addition to getting their own team back to the Western Mass quarters, the Mount Greylock girls have had a successful season bonding with the school’s boys team. After winning three straight sectional titles, the Mounties’ boys program went through a challenging year with low numbers.
Their struggles have brought the two programs closer together, Van Slyke and Stankiewicz said.
“Obviously, they've done amazing in the last few years,” Stankiewicz said. “But to have the small number of boys we have this year, to have them come and keep playing and keep the team alive, next year it will keep growing.”
“It's been fun helping the boys improve,” Van Slyke added. “In previous years, they were always so good, and we didn't associate with them much. This year, it's more personal, and we got to know everybody on both teams.”
“There’s more togetherness,” Stankiewicz said, finishing the thought. “It’s more like a family between both teams.”
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