Div. 4 boys tennis: Doubles teams close it out as PVCICS clips Fairhaven for spot in first-ever Final Four (PHOTOS)

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary hits a forehand during his No. 1 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst. 

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary hits a forehand during his No. 1 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst.  STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson lines up a backhand during his No. 2 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst.

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson lines up a backhand during his No. 2 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Clayton English hits a forehand during his No. 3 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst.

PVCICS’ Clayton English hits a forehand during his No. 3 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson fires up a serve during his No. 2 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst.

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson fires up a serve during his No. 2 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary hits a forehand during his No. 1 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst.

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary hits a forehand during his No. 1 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson hits a forehand during his No. 2 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst.

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson hits a forehand during his No. 2 singles match against Fairhaven during the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 4 Boys Tennis Tournament on Friday at Hampshire College in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

The second-seeded Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School boys tennis team posing with the MIAA Divsion 4 Final Four trophy following a 3-2 win over No. 7 Fairhaven in the quarterfinal match on Friday afternoon at Hampshire College.

The second-seeded Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School boys tennis team posing with the MIAA Divsion 4 Final Four trophy following a 3-2 win over No. 7 Fairhaven in the quarterfinal match on Friday afternoon at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/GARRETT COTE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-07-2024 9:09 PM

AMHERST — For the first time all season, the No. 2 Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion School boys tennis team found itself in a 2-1 hole after three matches in the MIAA Division 4 state quarterfinals.

If the Dragons wanted to punch their ticket to the Final Four for the first time in any sport in the school’s history, they needed to win both doubles matches against No. 7 Fairhaven that were still being played.

Lucky for them, their two sets of twins gave them the upper hand.

At second doubles, Derek Ye and Devan Ye grinded out a 6-4, 6-3 win to tie it up at two. Everyone then filed over to watch brothers James Scott and Teddy Scott, who were in the third set after splitting the first two, 6-2, 3-6.

The Scott brothers were up 3-2 in the third, then erupted to win three of the next four to take home a 6-3 win and send PVCICS into the semifinals with a 3-2 win at Hampshire College on Friday afternoon.

“It was such a close game,” Teddy Scott said. “Super exciting, third set. It was really fun and exciting to put on a show for the home crowd.”

The Dragons will play the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal match between No. 3 Manchester Essex and No. 11 Mystic Valley, and they are now the only western Mass. boys tennis team left standing in the state tournament.

That accounts for all four divisions.

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“It feels incredible,” James Scott said. “Today we had the full support of the community behind us. This is the most people we’ve ever had come out to a tennis match. The tremendous amount of support that the team had today, it just feels really, really good. We’re representing western Massachusetts. Nobody else, D4 through D1, has made it to the Final Four, so we feel really good and we’re proud to be representing western Mass.”

Both the Ye brothers and Scott brothers faced adversity in their two matches. But being twins and having a connection deeper than their opponents, it allowed them to be transparent when discussing what went wrong.

The Scotts faced three match points and struggled to close, so they came up with a strategy to finally close it out. Their final game with Chris Hu and Noah Pacheco went to deuce on five separate occasions. 

They finally broke through on the fourth match point, with James Scott delivering a forehand winner at the net.

“It gives you a real advantage, and it’s such a cool feeling,” James Scott said of playing alongside a brother. “You can figure out what they’re thinking, and you can give them the hard honest truth but know exactly what buttons to push. It’s a doubles dream come true.”

“Plus, as twins, you gotta play doubles,” Teddy Scott joked.

Even down 2-1 in the overall match, Dragons head coach Mike Locher seemed optimistic his doubles pairs would pull it out. He walked along the fence outside of the playing surfaces with a calm look on his face.

Once Derek and Devan locked in their win at No. 2 doubles, he knew James and Teddy – his seasoned junior veterans – would find a way to pull out the win at No. 1.

“To be honest, I still felt pretty confident when we were down 2-1 just because I believe in Teddy and James and I believe in Derek and Devan,” Locher said. “When I looked at their matches, I knew Teddy and James were facing a tough team, but they work together so well and they figure things out on the fly. And Derek and Devan, it’s more of a matter of them focusing. When they’re focused, they beat people.”

Elsewhere, Lee Ferguson showed exactly why they call him “The Phenom” during his second singles match on Friday. Ferguson, a sixth grader who still has yet to lose a single match this season, was first off the court – cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 win to put PVCICS on the board.

Locher described Ferguson as a bottle of energy for the team, and his infectious personality has rubbed off on everyone – including the upperclassmen. But his short stature and innocent smile quickly changes to a fierce competitor once his match begins.

And his opponents are no match.

“When we did the introductions, the biggest kid on their team comes out and he’s got this grin on his face,” Locher said. “Within a couple of games, all of a sudden he realized he’s in for a fight. [Lee is] just a great kid.”

Fairhaven’s Kole Pinto defeated PVCICS sophomore Aidan Cleary 6-4, 6-2 in an entertaining first singles match that was closer than the score indicated, and Alex Hu got the best of Dragons senior Clayton English – the only graduating player on the roster – 6-1, 6-2 at third singles.

With all of the youth on this PVCICS team, competing in these pressure matches like the one Friday and the upcoming Final Four are only going to brighten an already flashy Dragons future.

“I’ve got such a young team, it’s great they’re getting this experience,” Locher said. “Maybe we can build a tradition where guys say, ‘Yeah, we did it last year, we can do it again.’ Whether we make it or not, I think this is something that a lot of these guys will carry with them for a long time.”