TYNGSBORO — Heading into the season, first year Shawsheen Tech Co-Ed Tennis coach Jay Tildsley knew he had a talented team on his hands with a senior laden roster that was coming off a successful 6-6 season under the direction of previous coach J.P. Borriello. The pieces were definitely there for a successful season.
But it was hard tell just how much success they would have, Certainly every team hopes to compete for a league title at the start of the season. But for a tennis team in the CAC, winning a league title seemed like an impossibility — unless of course you were Greater Lowell, who had won the past five CAC titles, while being undefeated in the league over that span.
But that is no longer the case. With last Wednesday's doubleheader sweep of Greater Lowell in Tyngsboro, the Rams ended the Gryphons stranglehold on the CAC, winning their first league crown since 2013, improving to 13-2 overall in the process.
"It was our season long goal to compete for the league title and to have a chance to win it late in the season," Tildsley said. "And just the way it worked out, our match with Greater Lowell was late in the year, and we made it our goal to beat them for the title."
Heading into last Wednesday's doubleheader with the Gryphons, the Rams knew they would have to sweep both matches in order to win the league. A split would do them no good. But a sweep was exactly what the Rams got, winning both matches by scores of 5-2, getting tremendous performances out of both their singles and doubles players.
Senior captain Adam Hines of Tewksbury once again led the way for the Rams, winning each of his first singles matches by a score of 10-1, continuing a string of excellence that has stretched through the entire season where he has been the most dominant player in the entire league.
"Going into the season my expectations for Adam were that he would be a dependable player for us, but he has been so much more than that," Tildsley said. "Along with being a great player, he is also my go-to guy if I ever need anything. He is always willing to work with the young kids and cheering on the other kids on the team.
"He is not one of those kids who wins his match and then just kind of disappears. he is always supporting the other players. He is a talented player, but his number one characteristic is that he is just the ultimate team player. "
Other winners on the day for the Rams included junior Kevin Merino in second singles, winning a pair of matches by identical scores of 10-6, while freshman John Zembeck won each of his matches by scores of 10-5.
But winning their single matches alone would not have been enough to clinch the league title. They would also need some help from their doubles team, and they got exactly what they needed in second and third doubles.
In second doubles, the mixed doubles team of senior Cassidy Phillips of Tewksbury and fellow senior Cam Hudson rolled to a pair of 10-5 victories.
There have been many reasons for the Rams success this season, but a big part of it has been this mixed doubles squad which came together early in the season.
"We had them both at singles at first, but we realized we needed to get some points out of our doubles matches," Tildsley said. "Cam and Cassidy had teamed up last year , so we moved them back together and they have gelled together really well. They have been a huge asset to our team. There have been matches where in the past we may have lost by one point that we are now winning because of the two of them."
Shawsheen also got a win in third doubles from the duo of Wilmington seniors Sam Fusco and Michelle Chen, who powered their way to a pair of 10-5 victories.
"I just can't say enough about how well they have played this season," Tildsley said. "Both of our doubles teams have been very dependable and that is very important in some of our bigger matches against Minuteman and Greater Lowell. They kind of put us over the hump."
Tildsley may be in his first year as head coach of the tennis team, but he is no stranger to winning league titles at Shawsheen having been the head coach of championship track and field teams as well as an assistant with championship football and swimming teams, but there was still something unique and special about this year's tennis team.
"It's just been a tremendous experience," Tildsley said. "The kids have been unbelievable. They set a goal and they went out and accomplished it. It is all about them and I am very proud and happy for them."
The Rams will next look to add the CAC League Meet Championship to their trophy case when they travel to back to Greater Lowell this Thursday afternoon along with the rest of the CAC.