Before her freshman year Thomaston’s MacKenzie Blair never picked up a tennis racket in her entire life and four years late Blair is leaving the Golden Bears as one of their most successful tennis players in school history.
“I was a runner for a long time and I wanted to try something new, a friend, who was on the team, told me to go to tryouts so I did,” she said.
As an individual Blair graduates as a two-time, sophomore year and this year, Berkshire League All-Star, reaching the final four in the league tournament and on top of being an All-Star, she won the whole tournament becoming the first Thomaston tennis player, male or female, to ever accomplish that.
“I was gaining confidence as the year went on,” said Blair who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed. “The more I played and focused my strokes were working, it felt right and it finally all came together.”
Blair defeated Litchfield’s Sabrina Cofer in the finals and after taking a commanding 7-4 lead in the finals, she had to hold off a late comeback from Cofer, who made it 7-6 and had a chance to tie the match up.
Cofer led the point, 40-30 but Blair fought back forcing a tiebreaker, where they went back and forth, each with a chance to take the point, but at the end it was Blair who walked away at league champion, 8-6.
“I went in there just saying whatever happens, happens,” she said.
Blair and Cofer met twice during the regular season, with Cofer winning the first meet and Blair taking the second meeting the day before they met in the league finals.
“When I played Sabrina for the second time and beat her, I got the confidence,” she said. “It’s cool to do something for my school; I did it for my school.”
As for the Golden Bears as a team she led the way as the number one play and went 13-3 during the regular season, helping them to an undefeated, 16-0 record and the school’s first ever league title, boys or girls, in tennis.
“We definitely had an idea we would win it,” Blair said. “Going undefeated would add to it.”
The success didn’t stop in the regular season as the Golden Bears won its first two matches in the Class S state tournament, reaching the semifinals.
They would fall to the eventual State Champions, Northwest Catholic, in the semifinals, 5-2, with Blair winning her singles match.
Reaching the semifinals, with 10 seniors on the roster, again was a first for a boys or girls tennis program at Thomaston.
“It’s a special feeling, especially it being our senior year, it’s an awesome accomplishment, we are proud of ourselves,” she said. “We accomplished what we wanted since freshman year.”
Blair will be headed to Division-II Merrimack College and will be continuing her tennis career there, something she didn’t see coming when she picked up a racket her freshman year.
“Definitely not,” Blair laughed. “Especially Division-II, I can’t wait to be a part of the team.”