WEST SPRINGFIELD — Prior to stepping aboard the bus that would take Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School to the Western Mass. Class C finals, first doubles player Teddy Scott had noted the relatively vacant trophy case.
“The trophy cabinet was getting a little dusty,” Scott said. “I was looking at it right in the front hall before we go on to the bus, and I was like, ‘We got to get one in there.’”
PVCICS defeated Lenox 4-1 for its first Western Mass. title since the program’s inception.
The championship comes on the heels of a heart-breaking Western Mass. final 3-2 loss in 2022.
“(The players) were disappointed about last year,” head coach Michael Locher said. “They wanted a chance to get in there and win.”
PVCICS entered the match with a 12-1 record, but Locher saw they could play more naturally than previously.
“The last couple matches, (the players) were playing tense ﹣ they were playing not to make mistakes,” Locher said. “So, I said, ‘Win or lose, we’ve made it this far, let’s go out and have fun, play loose.’ And I think they were trying ﹣ I saw a lot more free play and creative play than the last couple matches.”
“When we play uptight, we play poorly,” Teddy Scott added. “When we let loose, let it rip, play more naturally, that’s when we’re at our best.”
Teddy Scott earned a doubles victory (7-5, 6-4) with his twin brother James. It was their eighth victory together this season.
“We’ve played doubles all year, and it’s been a blast,” James Scott said. “You’re just comfortable being honest with (your brother), and I think that just helps us relax and help us play our game.”
PVCICS won all three singles matches, with Hugo Shinn taking the first with back-to-back 6-1 set victories. It did not take long for the eighth-grade star to get going.
“I was able to start off very well,” Shinn said. “I was able to analyze my player very early on.”
Aidan Cleary and Clayton English also earned two-set victories, with Cleary taking his sets 6-0 and 6-2, and English winning his 6-3 and 6-2.
With PVCICS beginning athletics only a few years ago, the title marks the first Western Mass. championship for the school in any sport. The team is proud to make school history and hopes the title marks the first of many.
“To be able to take a small school like (PVCICS) and compete with older, more established programs is great,” Locher said. “It’s fun for the guys, and it’s great for the school.”