SEKONK, Mass. — There will be no repeating as champions this year for the West Warwick boys’ tennis team. An otherwise dominant season came to an end on Saturday with a 4-2 loss in the semifinals at the hands of Providence Country Day. The Knights would find their own season ending in disappointment the following day, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to undefeated Scituate in the finals at Slater Park.
It was a tightly contested showdown, with the doubles matches serving as the difference, as PCD swept all three.
The two teams had met one another just eight days earlier in the regular season, with West Warwick coming away with a thrilling 4-3 win in a match that came down to a third set tiebreaker at third doubles, but Saturday would yield a different result.
Levi Potter, who was not in the lineup for the Knights the last time they played, was on Saturday, something Wizards head coach Greg Gonsalves said played a major factor.
“That kid was the difference-maker,” he said.
Potter and his partner Oliver Craig would get the better of Tom Bellrose and Dmitri Vourvachakis, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, which proved to be the match-clinching point.
The other two doubles matches were close, but both would go to the Knights in the end.
Dennis Callaghan and Mario Gambardella put up a good fight, but fell short at first doubles 6-4, 6-4 against Matt Boghossian and Gabriel Zelaya-Rincon, while Jacob Repozza and Dylan Wheeler dropped their match against Barry McCoy and Craig Briggs at second second doubles 7-5, 6-2.
The top part of the lineup would be West Warwick’s strong point on the day.
Ethan Hoy picked up a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 win at first singles, edging out the Knights’ Zach Odessa, while Ethan Schaffer would have no trouble taking down Max Liebhauser, posting a 6-0, 6-1 victory at the second singles slot. Unfortunately for the Wizards, those would prove to be the only two points they would rack up on the day, one that primarily belonged to their opponents.
“Definitely a quality PCD team. They were better today,” Gonsalves said of the Knights after the match.
Mike Villanueva fell at fourth singles 6-2, 6-2 against Max Press, while Enrique Alvarez had his match stopped midway through the third set once the Knights had secured the overall win. Alvarez had dropped the first set, but come back to win the second, with the score at 2-1 in the third when they stopped.
Though they ended two wins shy of their ultimate goal, the West Warwick tennis team had plenty to be proud of following the 2016 season.
“Great, great season. We have to hold our heads high,” Gonsalves said.
The most encouraging news for the Wizards moving forward is the fact that each of their top two players will be returning next season, as Hoy and Schaffer are both juniors.
“We’ll be pretty strong next year,” Gonsalves said.
For senior co-captain Mike Villanueva, it has been about the progress the team has made over recent years that matters most to him.
“It was definitely a great season. We’ve definitely gotten a lot more competitive over these past two years, so I’m just glad to see that as a team and as a town, West Warwick tennis has been better than it has been in past years. It’s always a good thing to look back at the growth. It was still a great season,” he added.
Co-captain Christian Lucero was equally proud of the team and all they have accomplished over the years.
“I’m just really proud of everyone as a senior, seeing everyone improve over the years. Even though I haven’t played as much as them, I’m just proud of watching them and seeing how much they have improved. I’m glad that they all put their hearts out on the courts,” he said.
Schaffer, who will look to continue his success next season, had a positive view of the season as a whole, one that saw the team drop just a single match all year prior to Saturday.
“I feel pretty good. We had a good season,” he said.
He credited PCD for coming through when it mattered most.
“Everybody improves throughout the season, so they definitely improved,” he said.