Bedford wins 5th tennis title

A state title was a part of the plan for the Bedford High School boys tennis team this season, but the Bulldogs ended up with even more than expected.

No. 1 Bedford polished off a perfect season with a second consecutive Division I championship by claiming all singles matches over No. 2 Keene on Tuesday and went on to a 7-2 win at Manchester West High School. It is the program’s fifth straight title after taking back-to-back titles in Division II and one in Class I.

All matches were settled by a five-point margin or greater except for Ian Horne’s duel with Matt Gray on court two. Horne never lost the lead over his counterpart, but had to grind out an 8-6 victory for the No. 6 match win for Bedford.

“(Gray) had a very strong service game and I couldn’t break him for most of the match, but I had to make sure I held my service game to stay on top,” Horne said.

After holding a one point advantage, Horne broke out to a 5-2 lead, but Gray retaliated with two straight points to keep things interesting. From there, Horne managed to hold a single-point edge until finally notching the match point.

“I knew I had to step it up to the next level or he was going to plow right through me,” Horne said. “I had to stay confident and strong.”

Bedford (17-0) was the younger team, but exhibited the talent of experienced players. Four of the six Bedford singles were paired up with older opponents, including Zach Gould, a freshman who defeated senior Cam Jessup, 8-1, at No. 5.

“They truly respect the game and love hitting and that helped us to be special this year,” said Bedford coach Shawna Morley.

Keene (15-2) was eager to take on the top-seeded Bulldogs, but was also hoping to have some fortune.

“We knew we would have to play our best to give them a run and hope to catch them on an off day and not enough of them are having off days,” said Keene coach Bill Hay. “(Bedford) was getting the ball back more often.”

Dan Soucy defeated Reilly Hay, 8-1, at No. 1, Andrew Allen took down Patrick Hamill, 8-3, on the third match, Zach Anderson beat Will Silverstein, 8-2, in the fourth and Gurudeep Machupalli claimed an 8-1 victory over David Idelkope in the No. 6 match.

Another title was on the minds of the Bulldogs from the start of the season, but a perfect record came as a pleasant surprise.

“We approached every match, regardless of who we played, the same by taking care of our games and respecting our opponents,” said Morley.

Morley credits much of her team’s work ethic and success to the leadership of the seniors.

“It’s been my goal since freshman year and it’s what I’ve been trying to get these guys to work toward so it’s pretty awesome,” said Soucy on winning titles in all four of his years with the team.

The Bulldogs will part with seniors Soucy, Machupalli, Jon Greiner, Jack Gorham and Matt Williams.

The coming seasons look promising for Bedford which has seen impressive performances from a number of its younger players. Four of the six singles and five of the six doubles players will be returning to the court in 2015.

“We have a lot of hungry players who will be hitting tennis balls all summer and would love to have a spot next year,” Morley said.