Souhegan tennis teams fall in D-II tourney

Souhegan’s Anna Redway looks focused as she hits a backhand shot during the Sabers’ D-II quarterfinal match with Plymouth in Amherst on May 24. Souhegan won that match, but fell to second- seeded Windham on Friday. Staff photo by TOM KING

NASHUA – All season long, Souhegan High School girls tennis coach Bo Dean had been counting on his team’s depth.

However, when faced with the ultimate test against No. 2 Windham in Friday’s Division II semifinals, the third seeded Sabers’ well ran dry to the tune of an 8-1 defeat.

The Sabers (12-4) were without at least two-thirds of the bottom half of their regular singles ladder due to other school and family related activities. Thus, the team that had split a pair of 5-4 matches with the 14-2 Jaguars during the regular season really wasn’t present when it counted the most. Windham now moves on to face either Portsmouth or Oyster River in next Wednesday’s finals.

“I’m not (happy), but they had important activities going on,” Dean said. “Our philosophy all year has been next person up. We’ve had strong depth all year. Today Windham just outplayed us an our lower ladder players weren’t able to defeat their top six.”

The Sabers’ lone win on the day came from No. 3 Lila Morgan, who bested Windham’s Taryn Livingstone, 8-2. Morgan has suffered just one loss all season.

“We put up a good fight,” Morgan said. “If we had our whole team, we could’ve had a chance. It would’ve been fun to make it to the finals.”

That Saber bottom half did battle, but won just six games collectively. Windham’s Marina Nysten downed Souhegan’s Abby Tesconi, 8-1 at No. 4, as Tesconi moved up from the fifth slot she played at in the quarterfinals. Saber Lexi Weinberg fell 8-2 at No. 5 to Jordan Pellerin, and Souhegan’s Claudia Cavanaugh dropped an 8-3 decision to Jaguar Celine Hashem at No. 6.

“I was expecting nothing but a hard fight,” Windham coach Michael Keshigian said. “They had depth in the lineup. I knew still it wasn’t going to be easy (with the Sabers’ shorthanded), but I was hoping my Nos. 5 and 6 could pull out a win and they did.”

Things didn’t go so well for Souhegan at the top of the ladder, either. Anna Redway fell to Natalie Debyle, 8-3, at No. 1 and the Jags got the clincher despite a good 8-5 fight at No. 2 by Saber Eliza Cullen, who fell to Jenny Thibodeau.

The teams played doubles to fill out the score, and Windham swept. Debyle-Thibodeau downed Redway-Morgan 8-4 at No. 1; it was Livingstone-Nysten in a tight 8-6 win over Cullen-Tesconi at No. 2, and Pellerin-Hashem defeated Souhegan’s Emily Grudzien-Izzy Blume 8-2 at No. 3.

“We had a very successful year,” Dean said. “We ended up 12-4, and won five more matches this year than we did last year. A big improvement.”

Boys

It was a tough day on the road for both the Souhegan and Hollis Brookline High School boys tennis teams in the state semifinals, but better days should be ahead.

The No. 4 Sabers fell to No. 1 Lebanon at the indoor courts at Dartmouth College, 6-3, while the No. 3 Cavaliers were blanked by No. 2 Portsmouth, 9-0, in Newmarket.

“We had a great year, going 13-3 with a young team,” HB coach Jim McCann said. “The other top teams lose a lot of seniors, so Hollis and Souhegan should be pretty good next year.”

McCann’s Cavs ran into a Portsmouth team that will now face Lebanon next Tuesday to try to avenge a loss to the Raiders in last year’s semifinals. The Clippers last won the title in 2015.

Nick Vahe played well for HB at No. 1, up 5-4 at one point, but fell 8-5.

David Cherkassky lost 8-0 at No. 2, while Darius Paradie played well in losing 8-5.

Cam Vahe (No. 4) and Matt Williamson (No. 5) both fell 8-1 while Ben Zielinski dropped an 8-2 decision at No. 6 singles.

Paradie and Alex Anghel played the closest doubles match, falling 8-6 at No. 2 doubles. Nick Vahe and Cherkassky lost 8-3 at No. 1 and the team of Cam Vahe-Williamson fell 8-4 at No. 3.

“Portsmouth’s (15-1) a tough team, and they were able to turn it around at No. 1 and go from there,” McCann said.

Meanwhile, Lebanon (15-1) took four of six singles to take control against the Sabers, who finished 12-4.

Souhegan’s Matt Lapsley remained undefeated on the year, however, beating Jacob Peress, 8-4 at No. 1. The Sabers other singles win came when No. 3 Kyle Gibson beat Owen Johnstone, 8-2.

Sam Goddard (No. 2) lost to Terran Campbell, 8-4, and the Sabers dropped singles matches four through six as Dale Estes (8-0), Jordan La Quan (8-2) and Josh Laciallade (8-4) fell short.

Souhegan’s other win came after the match was decided, as Goddard-Gibson bested Johnstone-Lasse Bisp, 8-6.

The Sabers No. 1 team of Lapsley-Estes fell 8-6 and La Quan-Laciallade fell 8-4.

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