A funny thing happened on the way to the state tournament this past week for the regional high school boys’ tennis team.
In the most bizarre of circumstances, the boys were forced to play the girls’ team from East Bridgewater in the preliminary round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament because of a little-known provision in the rules regarding mixed-gender teams.
East Bridgewater does not have a boys’ tennis team, forcing the one male player in the school to play with the girls. The strange arrangement raised some eyebrows during the regular season, but largely was not a problem as the team played against other girls’ teams. But after they finished with a 10-8 record and qualified for the state tournament, it was announced they would have to play against the Vineyard boys’ team in preliminary round of the tournament at East Bridgewater last Friday.
And although Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the so-called “battle of the sexes” before a national audience in 1973, there was no such result in last week’s tennis match. Both the boys’ singles and doubles teams easily won their matches in straight sets against the girls. The one male-against-male match was also a win for the Vineyarders, as number one singles player Andrew McHugh defeated Brian Dolan in straight sets (6-1, 6-0).
Coach Ned Fennessy said it was one of the strangest tennis matches in which he has ever been involved.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a boys’ team having to play a girls’ team [in the tournament] . . . never mind actually playing in the match. It was a little surreal. I think our boys handled it well and did their best not to upstage the girls,” the coach said.
The Vineyarders did not fare as well when the played against the all-boys number one seed from Cape Cod Academy and their undefeated record of 20-0 on Saturday. McHugh fared admirably against their number one player Joe Albano before losing in straight sets (6-2, 6-2). Cape Cod Academy’s Jon Zelman defeated the Vineyard’s Dylan Hutchinson (6-0, 6-1) and Eric Eldredge defeated Zach Rabin (6-3, 6-4).
Cape Cod Academy’s doubles team of Connor McLann and Tyler Kuger beat the Vineyarders’ Evan Schwab and Win Grimm (6-2, 6-1); while the team of Will White and Spencer Pinkney defeated Seth Seeman and Daniel Han (6-3, 6-4).
Coach Fennessy said Cape Cod Academy has built an exceptionally strong tennis program in a short period of time.
“I can remember playing them like eight years ago and we would play our junior varsity team because they weren’t a particularly strong team,” he said. “Now they are one of the better teams in the state — my hats are off to them.”
With the loss, the Vineyarders finished the season with a record of 10-10. The team will be losing seniors Daniel Han, Evan Schwab and Seth Seeman, all of whom played on the team for their four years in high school.
“They were great players who always played hard for their team and their school. They will be missed,” the coach said.
In other high school sport news, the girls’ lacrosse team advanced to meet Maritime League rival Bourne in the semi-finals of the MIAA tournament yesterday afternoon. Results will appear in Friday’s edition of the Gazette.