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Wellesley’s boys’ tennis seniors aren’t satisfied with first Division 1 semifinals trip since 2017

Wellesley senior River Cracuin won at No. 1 singles.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Though clinching the boys’ tennis program’s first state semifinals berth since 2017 seemed like good cause for celebration, Wellesley’s seniors would not even touch their semifinalist trophy — opting to remain focused on the state championship trophy they want to hoist next weekend.

Powered by seniors River Craciun at first singles (6-0, 6-2), Charlie Coleman at second singles (6-3, 6-3) and Will Leibole and JJ Jacobs at second doubles (6-1, 6-2), the fourth-seeded Raiders (19-4) edged out the defending champions and fifth-seeded Acton-Boxborough (10-3) in a 3-2 victory in Thursday’s Division 1 quarterfinal match at Wellesley High.

“It obviously feels great to get as far as we have in a long time,” Craciun said. “But the job is not finished.”


After falling to Newton North in the quarterfinals last season, the Raiders’ five-senior lineup has displayed vastly improved consistency and confidence this year, enabling this core to finally break through to the semifinal round.

“Every year, guys improve,” Wellesley coach Mike Sabin said. “But this year, we felt like with this group, it’s been hard to find people who didn’t markedly improve and make big jumps across the entire lineup . . . There’s just a lot of hard work put in and a lot of noticeable improvement, and it shows.”

Wellesley's Charlie Coleman was pumped after winning his No. 2 singles match.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Along with Craciun’s powerful play at first singles, the Raiders have benefited from Coleman’s return, after he missed his entire junior season. He has battled nagging injuries throughout his entire high school career — including a sprained ankle earlier this season — and is using a one-handed backhand as a result of the nagging finger injury, but his confidence is trending upwards.

“It’s just another barrier,” Coleman said. “It’s been tough, but [I’m] happy I was able to pull it out today and come through.”

Playing their last-ever home game, the seniors savored the win for just a brief moment before shifting focus to their looming semifinal matchup against top-ranked Brookline (19-0). The Raiders have already faced their league rival twice this year — losing 3-2 in their first meeting and 5-0 the second time, though Coleman was out due to injury.


“I feel like every time we play Brookline, it’s always really close,” Craciun said. “It will be that again next week, and there’s no reason why we can’t win.”

Charlie Coleman concentrates on a return as Wellesley reached the state semifinals for the first time in six years.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Brookline 4, Westford 1 — Junior Dhevin Nahata led the way with a 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) victory at second singles for the top-seeded Warriors (22-0) in a win over the ninth-seeded Ghosts (10-7). Brookline advances to the semifinals where they will take on fourth-seeded Wellesley (19-4) at Newton South on Monday (4:30 p.m.)

Division 2 State

Westborough 5, Burlington 0 — With singles wins from Srinjoy Ghosh, Kaden Chen and George Garcia, as well as doubles wins from Michael Ku and Eehab Khan at No. 1 and Brendan Estaphan and Jordan Hlawek at No. 2, the second-seeded Rangers (15-5) swept their way into the semifinals, where they will face the winner of Friday’s match between No. 3 Concord-Carlisle and sixth-seeded Sharon.

Division 3 State

Dover-Sherborn 4, Apponequet 1 — Will DePaola (6-3, 6-4) and Max Glick (6-1, 6-0) secured wins at second and third singles, respectively, to help lead the third-seeded Raiders (15-3) to a quarterfinal victory. Cam Strouse and Evan Johnson rolled at first doubles (6-4, 6-2) and Isaac Lee and Josh Acker battled back for a three-set victory at second doubles (4-6, 6-1, 6-4) in the winning effort.


Girls’ tennis

Lexington’s Kyra McCandless stayed undefeated on the season with a win at No. 2 singles. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Lexington 5, Wellesley 0 — While running out two of the state’s top talents presents Lexington with an edge in almost every match, coach Chance Fechtor delivered a message to the rest of her lineup before Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup against Wellesley: Do not take the luxury for granted.

In a thorough effort, the entire lineup responded.

Behind dominant efforts from sophomores Diya Pachamuthu (6-0, 6-0) and Kyra McCandless (6-1, 6-0) at first and second singles, respectively, and consistent efforts across the lineup, the fifth-ranked Minutemen (21-1) topped the fourth-ranked Raiders (18-2) at Wellesley High.

“As I told the team on the bus, we can not be relying on just two players to carry you,” Fechtor said of Pachamuthu and McCandless, who are both unbeaten this season. “We’re really happy that they do so well for the team. But that doesn’t mean that’s true the next match. They could have an off day, right? So everybody has to step up and be at their best.”

Lexington's Diya Pachamuthu is also undefeated this year at No. 1 singles.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

After breezing through an undefeated record last season and storming to the program’s first state title in two decades, the Minutemen have faced slightly more resistance this year — highlighted by a 3-2 defeat to top-ranked Boston Latin last month. While Pachamuthu and McCandless both won their individual matches in that loss, facing their first significant adversity in two years further emphasized the focus necessary to repeat.


“It was definitely easier last year,” Pachamuthu said. “But this year, there’s much tougher competition. We’ve realized that we’re going to have to support each other more and lean on each other, even though we might not win every single match.”

Now in their second-straight Division 1 semifinal, the Minutemen await a potential rematch with No. 1 Boston Latin, who will face No. 9 Winchester in a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday.

No. 1 singles player “Masha” Maria-Lila Shutts helped Wellesley to an 18-2 record this season.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Division 3 State

Wayland 5, North Reading 0 — Sophomore Olivia Todd (6-0, 6-3), and juniors Kyra Spooner (6-0, 6-1) and Selena Liu (6-1, 6-0) registered convincing wins in singles play as the No. 5 Warriors (7-10) earned the quarterfinal win. In doubles, senior Morgen Warner and freshman Ava Knourenko teamed up for a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 1 and Amelie Martin and Arya Samaratunga cruised 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2. Next up for Wayland is a state semifinal Monday (5 p.m.) against Dual County League rival Weston at Lincoln-Sudbury.

Matty Wasserman can be reached at Follow him @Matty_Wasserman.