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Joyce Endee

That's a wrap, part two

Repeat a reality as Gilford wins second straight championship

The Gilford High School boys' tennis team accepts the Division III state championship plaque at Plymouth State University on May 26. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
May 27, 2011
PLYMOUTH – One was nice, two is better.

For the second consecutive year, the Gilford High School boys' tennis team stormed into Plymouth and captured the Division III state championship, as the Golden Eagles beat Bow High School, 5-4, on May 26 on the campus of Plymouth State University.

"It's just amazing," said senior Stefan Defregger. "We knew Bow would be the best team we played all year. We were a little nervous coming in but we still felt pretty confident because we know what kind of team we have."

After avenging the team's only loss of the season to Kearsarge with a win over the Cougars in the semifinals two days earlier, second-seeded Gilford got off to a solid start against top-seeded and undefeated Bow.

While Curt Chapin dropped his contest at first singles to Kevin Phelps, 8-2, Gilford followed with wins in the next four matches off the court. Defregger gave the Eagles their first point of the afternoon with an 8-0 win at number four while Michael Workman was right behind him with an 8-2 victory at number five. Parker Raus (8-4) and Max Fisher (8-3) gave Gilford a 4-1 advantage thanks to wins at numbers three and six respectively, as all eyes turned to court two and Andrew Kwist's match with Bow's Isaac Chassman at second singles. Kwist served for the match and the win at 7-2, but Chassman battled all the way back to pull out the 9-7 win against an exhausted Kwist, who struggled with the extreme heat in the final games and was attended to by the trainer afterwards.

Kwist's loss gave Bow new life, and the Falcons trailed 4-2 entering doubles action.

"After Andrew lost, (Bow) definitely had some momentum on their side," explained Defregger. "But we didn't run stairs every day for a month and practice every day to give up at that point."

After a lengthy break following singles play, Gilford regrouped for doubles. Needing just one win in the three doubles matches to secure the title, Raus and Defregger, who were undefeated at second doubles in each of the past two seasons, decided to take it upon themselves to close out the win.

"When those two took the court, it was almost like, 'We got this coach," said GHS coach Terry Wilson. "They weren't gonna be denied."

The duo didn't disappoint, as Raus and Defregger stormed out to a commanding 5-0 lead and never looked back, pulling off the 8-1 win that sealed the title.

"It was really important for us to come out and play well right away," said Raus. "It wasn't over yet after singles so we had to keep our heads up and get the job done."

Good friends off the court, Raus and Defregger decided to fully commit to their partnership in the preseason, as the duo bought matching hats and wore their socks up high to look the part.

"Before the season, we decided we needed to have some type of special uniform," said Raus, who paid $15 for the red and black 'Buckethead' caps. "So after I got the hats, Stefan said we should wear the high soccer socks to finish it off. It's a mental thing more than anything."

Defregger was especially happy the duo was able to pull out the final point needed to keep the title in Gilford.

"I'm really happy it came down to me and Parker for us to win the match," he said. "We established our calls early on and we just got really comfortable with each other. You build that trust in doubles and we were able to rely on it all season long."

Despite the problems with the heat during singles action, Kwist came back in doubles, teaming with Chapin in the top slot. The pair made a valiant comeback from a 5-2 deficit before ultimately falling, 8-6.

"Andrew was exhausted after his singles match but he bounced back and gave it everything he had in doubles," Chapin said of his partner. "We definitely made it tough for them."

Workman and Fisher dropped their match at third doubles, 9-8 (8-6), but the championship drama was already long settled before the final two doubles matches came to an end.

"It was my last day as a senior, the last sport I'll ever play at Gilford, so winning was the priority," said Chapin. "I lost both my matches but the team won, so I'm happy."

The loss was the first all season for Bow, as the former Class I school was 14-0 coming into the match during its first season in Division III.

"We knew Bow would be a very good team," said Wilson. "We really didn't know what to expect because we hadn't played them during the regular season but these kids just gave it their all."

It was a bit tougher for Gilford than last year's state title match, when Gilford swept the singles matches en route to the easy win over Inter-Lakes High School at Plymouth State.

"You can't underestimate the experience of last year," Wilson explained. "You've been here, you've played on these courts just last year."

Defregger, one of seven Gilford seniors in the team's top eight, knew things wouldn't go quite that smoothly this time around.

"It can't be that easy, especially against a team like Bow," he said. "We weren't gonna sweep the singles like we did last year so everyone needed to do their part and stay focused because it was gonna be a long day."

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