Last year, the Bedford boys’ tennis team captured the school’s first Division I title. Now the girls’ team is hoping to do the same thing this season.
Both Bulldogs teams are undefeated heading into this week’s quarterfinal round. The boys’ NHIAA tournament in all three divisions begins today at 4 p.m. and the girls’ postseason tourney starts Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Pairings were officially announced Sunday by the NHIAA as the Bedford boys will begin their quest for a fifth straight state title today hosting eighth-seeded Alvirne of Hudson. Bedford won its first Division I title last season after capturing consecutive Division II titles in 2012 and 2011. In 2010 Bedford won the Class I state crown.
“This year’s tournament field is wide open. Anyone can win it,” said Bedford head coach Shawna Morley. Bedford ended the regular season 14-0, followed by Keene (13-1), Exeter (12-2) and Winnacunnet of Hampton (12-2).
“We didn’t play Keene during the regular season,” said Morley. “If you look at the scores during the regular season, there were many 5-4 scores. That’s why I believe this year’s title is up for grabs.”
Dan Soucy, Ian Horne, Andrew Allen, Zach Anderson, Zach Gould, and Gurudeep Machupalli will look to defend Bedford’s title. Tim Weeks is the other starter for the Bulldogs in doubles.
In the Division II boys’ circuit, Derryfield won the regular season title with a 14-0 record, followed by Portsmouth (13-1) and defending state champion Hanover (12-1). Derryfield’s last championship came in 2009 in Class M-S. The Cougars will host eighth-seeded Souhegan of Amherst today.
Gilford, the defending Division III state champion, returns as the top seed. Gilford (14-0), which has captured three of the last four state titles (2013, 2011, 2010), will be tested by Bow (13-1) and Kingswood (12-2) of Wolfeboro. First, Gilford must get past eighth-seeded Pelham. Bow, the second seed, will host No. 7 seed Berlin.
In the girls’ tournament, the Division I state title could come down to Bedford (14-0) and Derryfield (13-1). On April 29 in Manchester, the teams brought in 6-0 records and the Bulldogs pulled out a thrilling 5-4 decision.
The match was decided in a tiebreaker won by Bedford’s No. 2 doubles team of Anna Corrao and Anitha Machupalli against Derryfield’s duo of Margo Pierson and Kristi Boucher 9-8 (8-6). Carrao and Machupalli rallied for the final five tiebreaking points to win the match for Bedford. The match was tied 3-3 after singles play.
Derryfield’s twin sisters Colbi and Berklee Vaillancourt will lead the Cougars in the postseason this week. Exeter (12-2) and Winnacunnet (12-2) each figure to give the Bulldogs and Cougars a tough battle along the way.
Bedford, which reached the finals last year before falling to Bishop Guertin, returns a veteran team that has no seniors in its starting lineup. Julie Aichinger, Anna Corrao, Abby Ramsay, Anitha Machupalli, Anli Zhang and Maylene LaPress will be the starters Wednesday against eighth-seeded Concord.
“We lost to Bishop Guertin in the finals but it was a good experience for our returning players,” said Bedford coach Kristen Perez. “We came back this season and have worked hard to get to this point. We’re a hungry team and just like our boys’ team did last year, our goal is to win our first Division I title. But it won’t be easy because the eight teams in the tournament are all very good and capable of winning it. We need to stay focused every step of the way.”
Derryfield, under head coach Gus Moral, welcomes head coach Dave “Doc” Wheeler and his No. 7 seed Manchester Central squad on Wednesday.
In Division II, two-time defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover (14-0) and Hanover (14-0) will be the top two seeds. Portsmouth (12-2) is the third seed. The Saints will host No. 8 seed Lebanon and the Marauders draw No. 7 seed Souhegan in Hanover Wednesday.
Division III defending champion Bow (13-1) may have to contend with undefeated Moultonborough (14-0) and Conant of Jaffrey (13-1) this week. Littleton (12-2) is considered the dark horse in this division. The top-seeded Panthers host No. 8 Gilford, No. 2 Conant entertains No. 7 Sanborn of Kingston, No. 3 Bow greets No. 6 Kingswood of Wolfeboro and No. 4 Littleton greets No. 5 Berlin on Wednesday.