NEWTON — The No. 2 St. John’s Prep tennis team reached the end of the road Monday afternoon, bowing out of the Division 1 tournament in the Final Four to No. 3 Lexington (3-2). It was a match that could have gone either way, but it was Lexington who advanced to the championship match, winning first singles, second singles, and second doubles.
After the match, head coach Mark Metropolis expressed how proud he was of his “hard-working team.”
“The kids really worked hard this season. They battled out there today,” Metropolis said. “All the kids on the court came to play on both sides. It was some great tennis.”
Lexington and the Eagles faced off earlier this season, with Lexington winning the matchup by the same scoreline. In the first meeting, Prep’s doubles team played well and Lexington adjusted its gameplan coming into the rematch.
Lexington moved its third singles to doubles and moved one of its first doubles players to second doubles to strengthen its doubles team. It proved to be the right move as Lexington’s second doubles team won its match.
“We played a good team. They beat us during the season 3-2 and we lost in the semi-finals 3-2,” Metropolis said. “A couple of points here and there we could have taken it. It was close. It was a hard-fought battle.”
Doubles had been a massive advantage for the Eagles this season. Coming into the match, first doubles Ben Liptak and Luke Prokopis lost one match all season while second doubles Mark McDuffee and Luke Free were undefeated.
“Ben was incredible. He has improved so much. He’s so coachable,” Metropolis said. “He and his partner really play well together. Whatever I tell them, they listen and do it.”
Lexington took the first two matches of the day, winning first singles and second doubles. It meant that Prep would need a clean sweep to advance.
“We had two or three games where we were up 40-30 and we lost those games on their service. If we would have got those points, you never know,” Metropolis said.
Prep’s first doubles team won. Unfortunately for Prep, second singles sophomore Jack Prokopis lost his match, ending the season for Prep.
Third singles John DeAngelis, despite losing the first set, continued to grind and give his all to end his season on a high. DeAngelis battled back and won the second set, before winning the tiebreaker third set 10-0.
“He’s a freshman. He came in and he really solidified our lineup and helped us out a lot,” Metropolis said. “He’s a really good player.”
Senior Paul Neal was another player who gave it all despite losing in first singles. Metropolis was full of praise for Neal and believes if Neal wants to, he could play at the next level.
“He’s going to Bryant University next year. If he wants, I really believe he can play there,” Metropolis said.
The team graduates two seniors, so the future is bright for the Eagles. Metropolis ends the season with 494 career wins at St. John’s Prep, six away from the elusive 500-win milestone.