Raiders Shatter Rockets' Slipper in Tennis Final

Needham girls' tennis falls in the South final.

The  Cinderella run of the 7th-seeded Needham girls' tennis team found the end of the road in the 2010 MIAA Girls Tennis South Division 1 final, falling 4-1 to fellow Bay State Conference power, top-ranked and unbeaten Wellesley, Friday, June 11, at the Hunnewell Courts.

"I was pleased. I didn't know whether we would get here or not and we had a tough run to get here. It's been fun," said Needham coach Diane Fidurko. "We won three matches, the first two by only a point and actually we could have lost the first one. "

After a bye in the preliminary round of the tournament Falmouth came a tiebreaker away from upseting the Rockets in the first round before Alex Marson pulled off an amazing comeback to keep the team's season alive with a three set, come-from-behind win at third singles.

"Alex in her singles match was down 5-2 in a tiebreaker in the second set and she pulled that out and then won the third set," said Fidurko.

There would be no late match heroics in the final however, as Wellesley shattered the Rockets' glass slipper, winning every match other than the top singles, which sophomore Ali Sullivan won in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.

"I was excited that I won," said Sullivan, "but I think as a team we all tried really hard and we knew going into it that it was going to be a really tough match and it was close and we are all really proud of each other for how well we did and how far we got."

The only disappointment for the team was not being able to push Wellesley as much as they had in their regular season-ending match.

"I think they played pretty well but I am a little bit disappointed that we did not play as well as we did the second time when we played Wellesley," said Fidurko. "They are a good team. They have very strong doubles players. The singles players I think are fairly even but they managed to pull out the games. They were two, two-hour matches."

The previous match between the two rivals wasn't decided until Wellesley seniors Lucy Brennan and Haley Blatz pulled out a third-set tiebreaker at first doubles and it was that match that served as motivation for the Raiders win in the Final.

"What I think was really important was we had a really hard-fought match with them last time and that motivated us," said Wellesley coach Alan Brazier. "They were really motivated to be ready today, to play really hard from the very beginning and not let up at any point during the match. From all the spots everybody played a really hard-fought match."

Blatz and Brennan set the tone in the final, scoring the first point with a quick, 6-2, 6-0 win.

"We played a really close match last time so that just gave us even more motivation to come in and really play a lot better," said Blatz. " I think it was also that our team wanted this really badly and we all had a really good feeling about this match going into it today."

The Raiders (21-0) advance to face the North champion Grey Ghosts of Westford Academy in a State semifinal at 3:30, Monday at Newton South.



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