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New Hampshire Open again features some of the best tennis players in New England

Union Leader Correspondent

July 14. 2017 1:49AM
Tom Gross, the owner and director of the Waterville Valley Tennis Center, is hoping for good things in this weekend's 36th New Hampshire Open. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

WATERVILLE VALLEY — Dana Parziale, who is New England’s top-ranked tennis player, leads a small, but talented field in the 36th New Hampshire Open, which begins today on the red clay of the Waterville Valley Tennis Center.

The three-day men’s singles and doubles USTA-sanctioned tournament has a cumulative purse of $10,000. In addition to cash and prizes, the 22 players can also earn points for the USTA’s Top 500 List.

Parziale, 25, of Cumberland, R.I., and most of the other players aren’t household names yet, but the competition is high-level, said Tom Gross, director of the Open and USTA pro at the 18-court WVTC.

“The tennis is so good, that it’s like watching Wimbledon, only the names are different,” said Gross.

Other top players include Malcolm Harrison, 29, the No. 3 seed, who was an All-American at Division II Northwest Missouri State. Seeded between Parziale and Harrison is Aaron Diamond, 19, a former player at Moultonborough Academy and Stonehill College. Diamond is ranked No. 9 in New England by the USTA.

Other competitors from the Lakes Region include Noah Sullivan, 18, of Meredith, who this spring capped an undefeated singles season at Inter-Lakes High School with a run into the NHIAA quarterfinals, and Jared Moore, 22, of Center Barnstead.

The New Hampshire contingent is rounded out by Zack Gould, 18, and Andrew Gould, 54, both of Bedford.

With the exception of Harrison and Jonathan Frink, who is from La Crescenta, Calif., the players are from New England — which is what Gross intended.

In 1989, the NH Open boasted a record field of 121 players, but that number dropped “fairly significantly” in subsequent years before stabilizing, Gross explained, after many colleges and universities began playing tennis in the fall and told their players to “dial it back” during the summer.

Gross knows that he could enlarge the field by increasing the amount of prize money, but added that doing so would also change the nature of the Open as a tournament primarily for New England-based players.

A native of Manchester and a member of the inaugural tennis team at New England College, where he had a career record of 77-2, Gross is partial to the existing vibe at the WVTC and said he isn’t going to tweak with the Open anytime soon.

Since coming to the WVTC in 1975 as a teaching pro, Gross said he has seen many changes in the game he loves.

“When I started with the New Hampshire Open, they were still using wooden racquets” and playing a serve-and-volley game, said Gross. But with the transition to metal and composite racquets, coupled with a craze for what he said is the “forehand with excessive topspin,” today’s players are “grinding it out from the baseline.”

There is no charge to attend the Open, which starts this afternoon at 4:30 and ends Sunday afternoon with the singles final at 1 p.m. and the doubles final immediately thereafter.

In case of inclement weather, play will be held indoors at the White Mountain Athletic Club.

Tennis Waterville Valley