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Gilford continues tennis dynasty

by Bob Martin
Sports Reporter - Gilford Steamer, WInnisquam Echo, Meredith News

The Gilford High School boys' tennis team won its fifth consecutive Division 3 championship. With the win they also extended their winning streak to 84 games. Bob Martin. (click for larger version)
June 05, 2017
MANCHESTER — To repeat a state champion season is an amazing task, but when it has gone on for five seasons straight there is no doubt it is a dynasty.

Gilford High School's boys' tennis team continued its supremacy in Division 3 with a 6-3 win over Bow in the state finals last week at the Derryfield School. The team was able to clinch the championship before going into doubles matches.

The Golden Eagles were once again led by a dominating performance by Grant Workman who won 8-1 over Brayden Binder.

While Binder played well, and there were several great volleys, Workman used a combination of a deadly serve, finesse and quickness to come away with the win.

"Grant may have the biggest variety of any player I've had in my 16 years," said coach Terry Wilson. "I compare it to a pitcher having five or six different pitchers against a batter and get them off balance. He uses them at the right place, at the right time. So, he would drive me crazy. He can drive you back with a deep topspin forehand and then he hits a drop shot. I don't play him because I'd get destroyed. He's got all the shots."

Workman was very quick to talk highly of his opponent, Binder, saying he was a good player that made some nice shots. In a strange occurrence, Workman also broke two of his rackets during the match. The southpaw said the key for him was to rely on his serve.

"I think the turning point was at 3 love I started smacking the ball a bit harder and trusting my topspin," said Workman. "I figured if I bring him to net, lob him I'll come in and get it passed him. That was basically it."

Other singles matches include an 8-2 win for Christian Workman over Evan Alfano; an 8-5 loss for Tyler Hanf who was defeated by Caleb Olson; and 8-4 win for Connor Craigie over Mike Mullen; an 8-4 win for Kyle Davies over Dillon D'Allesandro and an 8-4 win for Alden Blais over Zach Mullen.

For the second consecutive game the match was clinched in singles play by Davies.

This was the first season of Davies' tennis career, although he is in his senior year. He said it was a crazy feeling to have clinched two of the season's most important games. Both times came with adversity. Last time out against Sanborn he cut his finger opening a container of balls before his match and against Bow he found himself down 3-0 early.

"Last time he beat me 8-2 so when he was up 3-0 I was like, 'oh no, not a repeat,'" Davies said. "I won a couple and made it 4-4 and I felt comfortable again."

Connor Craigie also won his match against Mike Mullen 8-4. He is a senior and said that tennis is quite possibly the best thing about his high school career. Craigie said tennis is not only a great sport, but it is a great pastime that you can play long after being on a team.

Craigie said the depth on the Gilford team is "incredible" and he was happy that the team came out and worked hard to get wins to clinch in singles. He and Coach Wilson both agreed that that was ideal because with doubles, anything can happen. Gilford ended up winning two out of three doubles matches.

Craigie was asked what he feels the key to Gilford's constant success was, he said the answer was simple: great coaching.

"We have a great coach that will come out on Saturdays and will teach us so much," Craigie said. "He is willing to put the time in to make the team better. That really helps. Also, the depth of the talent coming up. We are lucky to have great tennis players coming up and such a good coach."

The funny thing is that when coach Wilson was asked the same question, he was quick to give the credit to his players who have always been willing to learn and ready to compete. He said that up and down the roster there are players who have been dedicated to their game, and it once again translated over to an undefeated season.

Wilson has had some great teams over the course of his 16 years of coaching in Gilford, and he said every one of his championships is special. Each team has a personality and with the 2017 Golden Eagles he said they have a knack for being very coachable.

"This team, they listen well," Wilson said and added, "They really, really do."

Rick Acquilano is wrapping up his first season as Gilford's athletic director, and said it is amazing to watch the success of the program.

"It's exciting to witness it and see this kid in a program that is obviously very healthy," said Acquilano. "It's good to be an AD in Gilford.

Co-Captains Workman and Craigie, Davies, Alden Blais, Marlon Pacheo and Brad Parker are graduating this year and Wilson said it has been a pleasure to coach the team this season.

While Gilford is losing their star in Workman, they are fortunate to have his younger brother Christian for another three years. Christian Workman won his match against Alfano 8-2, and showed that the skill continues to run in the family.

The Golden Eagles are on a run for the ages- one that could be compared to Bill Russell's Celtics that won eight straight NBA titles on the basketball court rather than the tennis court. Gilford has won seven out of the last eight state championships and they have now won 84 straight games.

"It's been a great run," Workman said. "This is a great group of kids and we play together all the time. We didn't lose once while I was here, so that was awesome.

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