NHIAA D-I Boys' Tennis Championship: Bulldogs capture all singles matches en route to fifth straight title
MANCHESTER — Bedford High senior Dan Soucy and his tennis teammates did it again.
The Bulldogs took all six singles matches on their way to a 7-2 win over Keene High School and their fifth straight state championship on Tuesday on the sunny and windy courts at Manchester West.
Bedford finished its second straight undefeated season at 17-0. The last two titles have come in Division I and before that the Bulldogs won a pair in Division II and one in Class L. They have lost one match in that stretch.
Bedford lost three seniors off last year’s championship team, a group that did something that caught Soucy’s eye.
“The seniors last year left with four championships in a row,” Soucy said. “That was definitely my goal.”
Soucy, who moved up from the No. 3 spot in the lineup to No. 1, led the way on Tuesday and throughout the year.
He beat Keene senior Reilly Hay, 8-1.
Hay and his father, Bill, the Keene coach, were impressed by Soucy and the Bulldogs.
“I think there’s something in the water over there,” Reilly said.
“They’re winning in all the sports.”
Hay trailed 6-1 in his match with Soucy and on the changeover on his way to the other side of the net complimented the focus his opponent was displaying.
There was no gamesmanship about it, Hay said.
“I hit the frame, a crack in the court and had a net cord all on one point and he still hit a winner,” Hay said. “I knew nothing was going to throw him off.”
The teams did not meet during the season, but the Blackbirds knew they were going to have their hands full.
“They’re very good,” said Bill Hay. “We knew that coming in. We knew that we were going to have to play our best to give them a run and maybe we’d catch them on a bad day. But it doesn’t look like that team has an off day very often.”
Bedford coach Shawna Morley thought her team might be in for a rebuilding year with the loss of the three seniors.
Not so much, as it turned out.
Soucy, a couple of freshmen and senior Gurudeep Machupalli, among others, stepped up and the deep Bulldogs filled in the holes nicely.
On Tuesday, sophomore Ian Horne held off Keene’s Matt Gray, 8-6, at No. 2; freshman Andrew Allen won 8-3 against sophomore Patrick Hamill at No. 3; junior Zach Anderson stopped senior Will Silverstein, 8-2, at No. 4; freshman Zach Gould beat senior Cam Jessup, 8-1, at No. 5; and Machupalli beat junior David Idelkope, 8-2, at No. 6.
Machupalli came on strong late in the year, Morley said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” she said. “He worked his way up and broke into the lineup and brings some powerful strokes to the game.”
Soucy added to his game, too.
“He’s a leader and what makes his game special is he’s very dependable and reliable,” Morley said. “And he added an offensive mindset to his game this year.”
Soucy and Morley praised the Blackbirds, too.
“It was not as easy as it may have looked,” Soucy said. “We expected a real tough match and everyone stayed focused on the task at hand.”
Kind of like the season went.
“I definitely thought we had the capability of doing it again,” Soucy said. “A lot of guys played a lot in the winter and people put in the time and we knew we had some talented freshmen coming up.”
Then came a late April match with Concord, another title contender.
The Bulldogs won, 9-0.
“We started realizing it could be a possibility,” Soucy said.
On Tuesday, the Bulldogs turned possibility into reality.