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Sullivan, Diamond compete in N.H. Tennis Open

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

Dana Parziale was the winner of the N.H. Tennis Open at the Waterville Valley Tennis Club. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
July 31, 2017
WATERVILLE VALLEY — Local tennis stars Noah Sullivan and Aaron Diamond, who are graduates of Inter-Lakes High School and Moultonborough Academy respectively, recently competed in the 36th New Hampshire Open at the Waterville Valley Tennis Center.

Sullivan and Diamond were doubles partners and made it to the semifinal round. They won their first round against Andrew Dunn and Parsa Raissi, 6-3 and 6-2. They lost in the semifinals to Dana Parziale and Luke Lorenz, who went on to win the tournament in doubles play.

Diamond explained that he and Sullivan have known each other for a long time, and practice together just about every day.

"We played a really good first match, we just happened to come across a tough team," said Diamond.

For singles, Diamond was a number four seed and won his first round over Zackery Gould of Bedford, with scores of 6-0 and 6-3. Diamond said he was proud of this win, as Gould recently won the NHIAA singles tennis tournament.

"It was a good win for me," said Diamond. "It was a decisive win, so that was great. I felt like I played well."

Diamond then lost in the quarterfinals to Ryan Foster of Bloomfield, Conn. NH Open Director Tom Gross said Foster is a tough player, and he handled him well.

Diamond was pleased with his performance. He said he enjoys the tournament, and after participating in three straight years, he will surely be back next summer.

Unfortunately for Sullivan, while he had a bye round and was the number three seed, he had the daunting task of facing Parziale, the number one seed and a player who is widely regarded as one of the best in New England. Facing a top seed is something Sullivan has had to do in recent months already, as he lost in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA singles tournament to the state's top seed, Matt Lapsley.

Parziale came away with the win with scores of 6-0 and 6-1, and while he didn't lose a set to Sullivan until the finals, Gross said it was a tough battle. Parziale eventually won the tournament in singles play.

Sullivan will be heading to the University of New Hampshire in the fall, while Diamond is a freshman and Stonehill College. The two are known as some of the best tennis players in the history of their high schools, and during the weekend of July 21-23 they took on some of the top players around New England and beyond.

The N.H. Tennis Open has been at Waterville Valley since its inception in 1979. In 1989 they had their largest draw with 121 players, and through the 1980s they were consistently attracting 80 to 120 players.

The tournament involves players who are as young as being in high school to others in their 50s, like Val Wilder III who played just last year.

Wilder was an eight-time winner and was one of the most prominent players to grace the courts in the tournament, Gross said. Jamie Gresh was another consistent force, winning seven times in nine years between 2001 and 2009.

Gross said they do not have try outs, and while he sometimes tweaks things, the seeds are chosen by the U.S. Tennis Association. He said the talent is incredible, with some players ending up being some of the best out there. While it is mostly New England, there are people who come from all over the world to play.

"A lot of these guys go on and go on to be great tennis players, cracking the top 100 in the world," Gross said.

The tournament has decreased its size over the years, and it generally attracts between 22 and 32, with this year being the latter.

"Because it is a year round program, a lot of the colleges don't want their kids playing in tournaments every weekend," said Gross. "Not like the old days. They want them to chill a little bit because they start playing when they get back to school."

The tournament has $10,000 worth of cumulative prize money, and there are also other prizes such as vacations and offerings from local establishments. Gross said this is great because it helps the local economy, and also gives returning athletes a free place to stay for the next tournament.

Gross said they want to keep the tournament as local as possible, and have not raised the prize amount over the years because he doesn't want to attract "gypsy players" who are just looking for the cash.

The players who make it to the semi-finals and beyond in singles matches, as well as both doubles teams in the finals, walk away with prizes.

Gross said this is a great event because they have 18 tennis courts to use, and it is something that guests to the area can come and view at no cost.

"It's a great opportunity to see some awesome tennis," said Gross. "Being a competitor myself it is nice to just keep the competitiveness and competitive component of tennis at the forefront for Waterville Valley."

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