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Boys Varsity Tennis Competes in New England Championship Finals

Gabe+Scholl+%2719+practicing.
Gabe Scholl '19 practicing.

Gabe Scholl '19 practicing.

Tyler Weisberg '22

Tyler Weisberg '22

Gabe Scholl '19 practicing.

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Two weekends ago, on the Groton tennis courts, the boys varsity tennis team concluded their outstanding season with the New England Championships. As the number-one seed and holders of a 14-0 undefeated record during the regular season, with wins over perennial superpowers such as Andover, Exeter, and Deerfield, as well as a victory in the prestigious Kingswood Oxford tournament, the boys were dreaming of championship glory.

Bright and early Saturday morning, while the rest of the school was in class, boys varsity tennis was out on the courts preparing to play Loomis Chaffee in the quarterfinals. In a single elimination setting, they couldn’t afford any mistakes if they wanted to secure Groton’s first New England A Championship title in over 15 years. With regards to the format of the tournament, matches were played first to four points. First, the teams would play three doubles matches, with the school winning the majority awarded one point. Then six singles matches would be played, with a point being awarded for every win. Though the student support was minimal in the quarters due to Saturday morning class, the heavily-favored Groton swept Loomis Chaffee without dropping a single point. This early dominance set the tone for the rest of the tournament.

Next, Groton would face Taft in the semifinals. This game took place later in the day and the Groton boys were feeling confident after their early win. Many students were able to come and support the team, yet the team started sluggish, almost losing the doubles point. The doubles team of Gabe Scholl ’19 and Powers Trigg ’20 fell behind 1-4. However, they were able to battle back and secure the doubles point in a close tiebreak. Seizing on to the momentum, Groton won the match, punching their ticket to the finals. Even with the decisive score of 4-1, Groton saw more competitive matches than in the morning, but still handedly took the win. However, as they prepared for the finals against Andover the next day, they knew this next match would be a much greater challenge.

After a brief rest, the competition resumed early Sunday morning. Both teams gathered in the indoor courts, knowing that one would walk out New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) champions, and the other, without a title. The match began, and the building soon filled with hundreds of students, teachers, and parents. This would be one of the most attended sports matches of the year at Groton. The team started off strong, and although Powers and Gabe went down 0-4 early, once again they came back and won their decisive match to secure the doubles point for Groton and take an early lead. However, as the singles match began, the competition became very tight. Groton only won 2 out of the 6 first sets: they would need at least one comeback. Matt Kandel ‘20 and Gabe closed out their matches, meaning that Groton needed one more win in order to secure the Championship. Aaron Jin ’19 lost a tough match, playing fourth on the ladder. The score stood 3-1. Captain Sam Girian ’18 and Andrew Yang ’19 also lost in extremely close second sets, pushing the score to 3-3. The New Englands would be decided on Court 6. After dropping a close first set, Powers fought back to win the second set, 6-2, forcing a third set to decide the winners of the championship. Powers said that he “was exhausted, but energized by the crowd and because it was such a contentious match.” Ultimately, Powers would lose the third set, 4-6, after saving several match points.

While this was a disappointing loss in the team’s almost perfect season, they knew that they needed to put it past them and focus on the final games of the season against Milton. Team captain, Sam said, “It felt really good to get a big victory against Milton after a tough loss against Andover in New Englands, and it was especially great for the team to lock up number 1 in the league”. With the pressure of maintaining the undefeated season and completing a 15-0 record to win the ISL, the team went out and secured a lopsided victory over Milton, 12-3, placing themselves at the top of the league. Although they did not complete all of their goals for this season, the team will look to reach even greater heights next year, with 5 out of the 6 starters returning.

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