LYNNFIELD — The Wilmington High Boys Tennis team saw their season come to a disappointing end on Tuesday afternoon, as the 13th seeded Wildcats suffered a 5-0 loss to number four seed Lynnfield in the first round of the MIAA Division 3 North Sectional Tournament.
With the loss, Wilmington, who qualified for the tournament via the Sullivan Rule, ended their season with a 6-12 overall record, their most wins since 2015, which was also the last time they qualified for the post season. Lynnfield advanced to play Winthrop, whom they will face in the sectional quarterfinals on Thursday.
While Tuesday’s result was certainly not what the Wildcats were looking for, as they failed to win a set against the powerful Pioneers, coach Rob Mailey was still very proud of what his young team, made up almost entirely players in their sophomore year or younger, was able to accomplish.
“The kids were disappointed with the result today, but as I explained to them it was another stepping stone towards becoming a better team,” Mailey said. “Lynnfield is a very good team, so losing to them should not take away from everything they accomplished this season.”
One thing that Mailey is sure of is that the Wildcats would not have been as successful without the contributions of senior captain Chris Spinazola, who played second singles. With a roster that included five seventh graders, one eighth grader, three freshman and three sophomores, Spinazola’s leadership was vital to the Wildcats all season long.
“Chris was a terrific captain,” Mailey said “I just can’t say enough good things about him. He just put his personality on the team and was a true team leader on and off the court. The kids loved him, and he just did a great job for us.”
Other key contributors for the Wildcats this season included their other two singles players, with freshman Anay Gandhi competing in first singles and his younger brother, seventh grader Anuj Gandhi in third singles.
The Wildcats were also led by the doubles combinations of sophomores Jared Benoit and Colby Scaplen in first doubles, while freshman Alexander Paquet, along with seventh graders Owen Mitchell and Siddharth Karani combined for a formidable second doubles team.
“We definitely look strong coming back next year,” Mailey said. “I am hoping the boys work hard in the off season. If they keep working, I know they will continue to get better.”
MIAA Boys Tennis Sportsmanship Award
In addition to their play on the court, the Wildcats were also recently recognized for the classy way in which they conducted themselves in their matches when they were awarded the MIAA Boys Tennis Sportsmanship Award for the 2019 season.
The award will be presented to Mailey, Spinazola and Wilmington High Athletic Director Tim Alberts on June 17, prior to the Division 2 North semifinals. It is an award that Mailey will be honored to receive.
“That is quite an accomplishment for these boys,” Mailey said. “I feel really good about it. I consider it one of the biggest accomplishments in my 20 years as a high school coach. Back when I was coaching North Andover, we made it to the Division 2 finals before losing to Winchester and I was selected as MVC Coach of the Year. That was very nice, but this might be even better.”
Mailey once again credits Spinazola’s leadership for his team receiving this award.
“I have talked about it a lot, but I think Chris deserves a lot of credit for showing us the way,” Mailey said. “They followed his lead. I can’t think of a time all season when our kids questioned a line call. I am really proud of this group.”
With Spinazola moving on however, the Wildcats will need new leaders to step up next season and Mailey is looking forward to seeing his younger players excel in that role.
“We have some kids who can be great leaders for us,” Mailey said. “I am not sure who our captains will be next season, but whoever it is I know it will be a great leader and someone who will represent us very well.”