At the beginning of the girls tennis season this spring, coach Chris Scott emphasized that the team was focusing on one match at a time, and not giving any thoughts to post-season play. It is a time-honored sports cliché, look only at the game in front of you and let the larger picture unfold almost as an afterthought.

For the girls tennis team, the strategy was essential. After all, they had won the state championship four years in a row. That is a heavy load of expectations to carry through a whole season.

On Wednesday at the St. John’s High School tennis courts in Shrewsbury, the girls tennis team proved once again that they are indeed a dynasty to be reckoned with. In a dramatic 3-2 win over Winchester High School, the team won the state championship title for the fifth year in a row.

But it wasn’t easy, not by a long shot. After cruising through an undefeated season and early tournament play they ran into a tough Dover-Sherborn team last week in the south sectional final. The match went the distance, with the Vineyard winning second and third singles but dropping first singles and second doubles. The season rested on the shoulders of the first doubles team of Molly Pogue and Chesca Potter, who split sets with their opponents before finally notching the win with a 7-5 third set.

Congratulations, the Vineyard way. Huge crowd along with fire brigade met the girls at the ferry. — Ray Ewing

The match against Winchester, a rematch of last year’s division two state final, proved just as dramatic.

After taking the ferry and a bus to Shrewsbury, the team gathered on the court for their pre-game ritual. They stood in a circle as senior co-captain Kelly Klaren read an inspirational quote from women’s tennis player Jamie Hampton. Then the girls bounced a tennis ball to each other, going around the circle twice. They call this ritual the gauntlet, and use the same tennis ball every time.

“Two hands for catching ladies,” shouted Klaren. “Be careful with her. She’s an old gal.”

And then it was time to take the court, with family and friends who had also made the trip from the Vineyard, cheering from the sidelines.

Klaren, playing at number one singles, set the tone by defeating Caroline Fredey 6-0, 6-0 in just 32 minutes.

“She’s a tough competitor,” noted tournament director Tim Breen as Klaren walked off the court, shouting encouragement to her team.

Victoria Scott won at second singles — Ray Ewing

Victoria Scott, daughter of Coach Scott, followed at second singles with a quick win of her own against Olivia DeMichaelis 6-2, 6-0. And for a moment it looked like the crowning achievement of the season would be anticlimactic, as Hannah Rabasca at third singles won her first set easily 6-2.

But Winchester was not going down without a fight.

Winchester’s Taylor Kenrich and Lauren Chilton at first doubles began to shift the momentum by defeating Molly Pogue and Chesca Potter. Winchester’s second doubles team of Grace Thompson and Maddie Tahnk continued the surge by defeating Alexandra Rego and Tessa Hammond.

And just like that the match was tied at 2-2, and all eyes turned to third singles where Winchester’s Nicole Costales had found a way to disrupt Rabasca’s hard hitting game with a series of lobs and slow returns. Rabasca dropped the second set 3-6.

After a break, Costales and Rabasca returned to the court for the deciding third set. Peter Norris, Hannah’s grandfather, shouted encouragement from the sidelines. “Did you know Hannah has a 59-1 record for her entire career,” he said. “Amazing.”

Hannah Rabasca gets the win at third singles, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. — Ray Ewing

For the third and final set both players dug in from the start. The first game alone included nine deuces, until Rabasca finally prevailed. Rabasca won the next two games in quick succession but Costales rallied, winning the next two games to put the score in games at 3-2 for Rabasca. The two battled back and forth, trading games until at one point it was 4-4. Then Rabasca took the next two games to win the set, match and championship.

“I definitely had some nerves going in to it,” Rabasca said after the match. “But once I got past the first hump, I settled in. It is a lot of pressure because I didn’t want to let the team down. I have never played a tougher match.”

And just like that history repeated itself, for the fifth time in a row. The girls team first won the division three state championship back in 2015. After staying on top for three consecutive years, the team moved up a level to division two for more competition. It didn’t faze them at all. Last year they went undefeated, winning it all for coaches Nina Bramhall and Liz Roberts, who retired at the end of the season.

Chris Scott took over coaching duties this year, taking the team to a 21-0 record and another state championship trophy.

Kelly Klaren won at first singles 6-0, 6-0. — Ray Ewing

“Building on the success over five years is really about this group of girls and how strong their character is,” he said. “I appreciate them as people and as athletes. They always do the right thing and it makes it a privilege to coach them.”

He added that he didn’t do it alone, not by a long shot. “Island coaches Joe Holland and Paul Pertile have been so helpful in running high energy practices. And the Vineyard Family Tennis with Mike Halisky. It’s been huge.”

On the bus ride home to the ferry, the team sang Bohemian Rhapsody and Carrie Underwood hits as they drew the Roman number V on their hands and faces. Senior co-captain Victoria Scott commented on watching the final match of the day and her high school career. “It was stressful, but I knew what we were capable of, so we just had to have faith,” she said. “And we came through.”

Scott will continue her tennis career at Bates College next year. Klaren will play for Merrimack College, becoming the first player in the history of the girls tennis program to join a college division one team.

After the bus ride, the team boarded a freight ferry back to the Vineyard, where a huge crowd awaited them. Some had no relation at all to the team, like Nyasia Smith who drives for Vineyard Cab Company.

“I’ve never seen anything like this” Ms. Smith said. “Wow, I mean, this is amazing. I wish they did this at the high school I went to.”

Indeed, the horns of the fire trucks were deafening as the girls walked off the ferry smiling and holding up five fingers. Perhaps next year they will need two hands to count the championships. After all, they only lost two players to graduation. Everyone else is back. But no one is thinking about that yet. Honest.

More photos.

Caroline Kaplan contributed reporting.