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Defending champs get back to work

Gilford junior Andrew Caulfield returns to his familiar number one spot after finishing the season undefeated in both singles and doubles play en route to the Division III state championship. File Photo. (click for larger version)
April 07, 2014
GILFORD For the third time in four years, the Gilford High School boys' tennis team brought home a state championship last year. The Golden Eagles fought their way through a title match for the ages, using a pair of huge comebacks from seniors Matt Saulnier and Alex Simoneau in singles action to hold off chief rival Bow High School in a 6-3 victory that capped off a perfect 16-0 season.

The D-III crown was the seventh in program history for a program that has quickly morphed into a bit of a dynasty. Veteran coach Terry Wilson, who enters his 15th season coaching the Eagles, has suffered losses to graduation over the years, yet somehow he has plans in place for the future, year after year after year.

This season will prove no different, as Gilford lost three of its top six players to graduation. That included the aforementioned co-captains in Saulnier (second singles) and Simoneau (third singles) as well as Erich Berghahn (fifth singles), meaning the Eagles will once again turn to several new faces to fill some key holes.

The good news for Wilson and the Eagles is that junior Andrew Caulfield is back. A mainstay at first singles since he burst onto the scene as a freshman, Caulfield is as close to a guaranteed two points as you're going to find in Division III, though he'll be paired up with a new doubles partner after losing Saulnier to graduation. Caulfield went undefeated at both singles and doubles during the regular season in 2013, and he and Saulnier were seeded sixth at the doubles individual tournament last June.

While Caulfield will headline the Eagles from the top spots yet again, a big key this season will likely fall on the shoulders of juniors Keaton Quigley and Nolan Dwyer. The duo both started as sophomores last year, with Quigley playing fourth singles and Dwyer occupying the sixth slot in the state championship match. Their experience will certainly be needed for a lineup that will feature at least three new faces, and with the second and third spots open from last year, the pair will look to climb the ladder.

The Eagles do have several returning players back who saw some time either in varsity or exhibition matches last year. Juniors Brad Bergman and Marek Blais are in that group, while sophomores Christian Ayer, Joshua Bolduc, Ethan Drew, Mark Glavin and Sam Shafique were all on the team last year.

Sophomores Bryce Workman and Ricky Hughes are new to the squad, while freshmen Grant Workman, Alden Blais, Connor Perkins and Kyle Davies comprise the youngest portion of the roster.

The Eagles were slated to open the regular season on April 7, but the home opener against Prospect Mountain was postponed as winter has stuck around a bit longer than most in the tennis community would have liked.

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