Div. 4 boys tennis: PVCICS’ undefeated season ends to Manchester-Essex in state semifinals (PHOTOS)

PVCICS’ Teddy Scott reaches for a volley at the net at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tues

PVCICS’ Teddy Scott reaches for a volley at the net at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tues STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson lines up a forehand at No. 2 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson lines up a forehand at No. 2 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary lines up a forehand at No. 1 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary lines up a forehand at No. 1 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Teddy Scott reaches for a volley at the net during his match at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ Teddy Scott reaches for a volley at the net during his match at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ James Scott lines up a forehand at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ James Scott lines up a forehand at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ James Scott reaches for a volley at the net at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ James Scott reaches for a volley at the net at No. 1 doubles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary lines up a forehand at No. 1 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ Aidan Cleary lines up a forehand at No. 1 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson follows through on a forehand at No. 2 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield.

PVCICS’ Lee Ferguson follows through on a forehand at No. 2 singles during the Dragons’ 5-0 loss to Manchester Essex in the MIAA Division 4 semifinal round on Tuesday at Forest Park in Springfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 06-11-2024 9:05 PM

SPRINGFIELD – Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School boys tennis’ dream undefeated season came to a close on Tuesday afternoon with a 5-0 loss to Manchester-Essex in the MIAA Div. 4 semifinals at Forest Park.

The No. 3 Hornets not only ended the No. 2 Dragons’ unbeaten season, but they also snapped undefeated streaks by Lee Ferguson (second singles), James and Teddy Scott (first doubles) and Derek and Devan Ye (second doubles).

Last year, PVCICS lost in the Round of 16 for the second straight season. Then, eighth grader and No. 1 singles player Hugo Shinn left to play at Phillips Exeter Academy. But in stepped an even younger star singles player – Ferguson, a sixth-grader affectionately nicknamed Baby Yoda who didn’t drop a set all year until Tuesday afternoon.

“We lost our first singles and we didn’t know how we’d do,” PVCICS’ Teddy Scott said. “But it became pretty apparent that we were going to be good, but I don’t think anyone could have expected that we’d make it this far.”

PVCICS (19-1) secured an undefeated regular season for the first time in program history and wrapped up their second consecutive Western Mass. Class C crown with a 5-0 sweep over Lee.

Of the Dragons’ 18 matches played before Tuesday (their win over Chicopee on May 9 was a forfeit), they swept their opponents in eight of them and dropped just a single match in seven more, including a win over Western Mass. Class A champ Longmeadow. PVCICS’ only matches within a point were wins over Pope Francis (first match of the season), Palmer (only one regular starter played in their usual spot) and No. 7 Fairhaven in the Div. 4 quarterfinals last week. 

After eight matches this year where the entire Dragons team only lost one or zero sets, they only won one total set on Tuesday. Ferguson took the first set in second singles from Charlie Virden 6-2, but Virden came back to take the second set 6-1 and the third set super-tiebreaker 10-6. It was Ferguson’s first dropped set of the season. In all, he won about 200 more games than he lost this year.

First singles player Aidan Cleary lost his match 6-2, 6-2 and third singles player Clayton English lost his match 6-0, 6-0. Juniors Teddy and James Scott lost first doubles 6-2, 6-2 and eighth graders Derek and Devan Ye lost second doubles 6-1, 6-4. 

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James and Teddy Scott both agreed that Manchester-Essex was the best team they’d played all year.

“We only get to play pretty few teams in our regular season and it’s the same teams over and over,” Teddy Scott said. “Out east, they’ve got a lot of the high-caliber teams, a lot of the top seeds, so we’d love to get some more practice against them.”

Head coach Michael Locher said he’s considering adding some non-league games against opponents from eastern Massachusetts. The Dragons have already gotten an invitation for next spring from Nantucket, which they beat in the Round of 16 on June 3. However, the PVCICS school day ends at 4 p.m., which means bussing to a school several hours away would cause the players to miss out on class time. 

Because PVCICS competes in the Tri-County League South, the smallest of the five tennis leagues, it doesn’t receive regular season matches against the biggest schools in western Mass. If the Dragons want to schedule a game against one of those Valley League teams, it has to be an independently scheduled contest, like their match against Longmeadow on May 16. PVCICS reached out to Amherst and Northampton – who both play with Longmeadow in the Valley League – but both schools declined to schedule matches with them this season. 

PVCICS only graduates one senior – third singles player English. Next year, James and Teddy Scott will be seniors, Cleary will be a junior, Derek and Devan Ye will be freshmen and Ferguson will be a seventh grader. And the Dragons have a bevy of young players on the bench hungry to fill English’s spot.

“Obviously it’s sad to go out,” Teddy Scott said. “But we’ll be back.”