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A long time coming

Kingswood tennis boys make triumphant return to playoffs

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

SENIORS Chris Campbell (left) and Peter Gibson played their final home match on May 23, beating Wilton-Lyndeborough in the Division III tournament opener. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
May 28, 2012
WOLFEBORO — It may have been more than a decade since the Kingswood boys' tennis team had played a playoff match, but the Knights weren't going to let that first experience last very long.

The fourth-seeded Kingswood boys made quick work of the fifth-seeded Wilton-Lyndeborough Warriors on Wednesday, May 23, winning by a 9-0 score to advance to the Division III semifinals.

The semifinals didn't quite go as well, as the Knights ran into undefeated Bow and dropped an 8-1 decision.

The Knights had beaten Wilton-Lyndeborough earlier in the season, but without any playoff experience, it was hard for coaches Greg Cooper and Jeff Ladd to know exactly how the Knights would respond.

"When the pressure was on, we performed the same way we did before," Cooper said. "The boys really stepped up."

Andrew McCall made quick work of his opponent at number four singles, coming off the court first with an 8-0 win.

Peter Gibson followed at number one, picking up an 8-2 win and earned his coach's praise for the win.

"Peter really played well," Cooper said. "He made (his opponent) play his game."

Tucker Jones was next off the court, getting an 8-2 win in the third spot and Alden Garland followed with an 8-0 win at number two, giving the Knights a 4-0 lead after the first group of singles.

Nils Babcock clinched the win for the Knights, as he won by an 8-2 score at number five to give the Knights the five wins needed for victory.

The number two doubles team of McCall and Jones was off the court next, as they won 8-1.

Spencer Fusco, playing at number five singles, had a battle on his hands, but fought his way all the way back from a 5-4 deficit to pick up an 8-5 win.

The longest match of the day went to the number one doubles team of Gibson and Garland, who battled back and forth the entire match and finally emerged with a 9-8 victory (7-5 in the tiebreaker).

Chris Campbell, playing in his final match and Travis Lush, playing in his first playoff match, teamed up for number three doubles and picked up an 8-2 win. Appropriately enough, Campbell served the winning point to cap off his senior season. He was unable to make the semifinal match the following day.

The Knights made the trek to Bow the next day, Thursday, May 24, and despite dropping the 8-1 decision, played some strong games in what turned out to be the final match of the season.

Gibson fell by an 8-2 score at number one and Garland fell 8-3 at number two. Jones lost 8-0 at number three, but Cooper was quick to point out that all of his games went to deuce.

McCall got the lone win for the Knights, picking up an 8-4 win with strong play at number four. Babcock fell 8-0 at number five and Lush, playing his first playoff singles match, played well at number six, but lost 8-5.

In doubles, Gibson and Garland fell 8-5 at number one, Jones and McCall lost 8-4 at number two and Lush and Andrew Hewitt, making his first playoff appearance, fell 8-1 at number three.

Cooper praised the leadership of Gibson throughout the season, noting that he finished at 9-5 for the year.

"That is a great record, especially considering he played the best tennis player from each school we faced," Cooper said. "As a captain he led the team both on and off the court with his work ethic and dedication to the team.

Cooper noted that it was a pleasure for he and Ladd to coach him and they wished him nothing but the best moving forward.

Overall, the Knight coach was thrilled with how the season went.

"This was a great season for our program," Cooper said. "The dedication from these boys was great, the hard work paid off."

He also noted that the establishment of a winning tradition could go a long way in growing the Kingswood tennis program. The Knights finished with a winning record for the second year in a row.

"They got to see what it's like to win and they put a lot of life into the program," Cooper said. "We figured it out, now we just have to keep it going.

"We're hoping this brings people to the team that didn't come in the past," the Knight coach continued. "We want to get as much young blood to the team as possible."

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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