CONCORD – Mark HoSang had a couple of reasons to be upset that the Class I boys tennis final had been postponed for the second time Thursday.
HoSang and the Bedford High School team were supposed to play Pelham on Tuesday at Memorial Field in Concord, but that was called off because of a forecast of afternoon thunderstorms and rescheduled for Thursday. More potential thunderstorms on Thursday bumped the match back again, this time to Friday.
But that was the least of HoSang’s concerns Thursday afternoon.
“This is what happened,” HoSang said. “I got out of school Thursday, I had a biology test and I wasn’t planning to take it. I did study a little. I got the announcement I was back in and had to take the test. I was kind of disappointed. That was frustrating.”
Just as frustrating as the Pythons and coach Lisa Terwilliger getting on a bus and heading for Concord Thursday afternoon.
“We were on the bus on Thursday, and we were in Derry,” she said. “I got a call and we had to turn around. By the time we got here (Friday), they were ready to go.”
The teams finally got on the court Friday afternoon, and No. 2 Bedford wrapped things up early by winning five of six singles matches to defeat No. 1 Pelham. The Pythons came back to sweep the doubles matches to make it a 5-4 final.
For Bedford (18-0), the win completed an undefeated season and gave the Bulldogs their first tennis title in school history, and just the third overall.
“I’ve been waiting all season,” Myles Utell said. “Our original goal, we scrimmaged Concord on this court at the beginning of the season and we said let’s start here and end here with a championship. It’s a great accomplishment, especially in our third year as a program.”
Utell turned in a dominating performance for Bedford, cruising to an 8-1 victory over Pelham’s Matt Smith in the No. 2 match. Jim Delahunty gave the Bulldogs two wins when he finished off Ryan Fyfe, 8-2, in the No. 3 match.
Things got interesting after that. While Bedford’s Andrew Weeks was beating Ethan Ely, 8-4, in the No. 4 match, Pelham’s Matt Mercier was knocking off Taylor Summerville by the same score in the No. 5 match.
The Bulldogs lead 3-1 with two matches still going. HoSang had jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Jared Taylor in the No. 1 match, but Taylor cut the lead to 4-3 and 5-4.
In the No. 6 match, McKinley Grimes went up 6-1, but Pelham’s Gabe Ramos won four straight games to make it 6-5.
During the regular-season match between the teams, Bedford had won 9-0, and all Terwilliger had been hoping for was to see her team play better.
“I was hoping to see my team improve,” she said. “Everyone did. I just wanted to see improvement and I knew it was going to be a tough match.”
HoSang won the final three games of his match to beat Taylor 8-4, and Grimes held off Ramos to win the No. 6 match, 8-6.
As Grimes was coming down to the end, the rest of his teammates gathered near the entrance to the courts, a bucket of water hidden in the middle of the group. When Grimes finally won, they waited patiently for him, and doused the freshman as he celebrated with them.
“Those matches weren’t given to us, they had to fight,” Bedford coach Shawna Morley said. “They were focused. That was the beauty of this team, they knew what their mission was. The town of Bedford is such a tennis community, and they wanted to bring that home to Bedford and to the high school.”
With the win wrapped up, Morley substituted for her doubles teams.
Taylor and Smith took the No. 1 doubles match 8-5 over Bedford’s Steve Troy and Wesley Maddox. Ely and Mercier won at No. 2, beating Jim Foley and Warren Cormack, 8-2, while Fyfe and Ramos defeated Tom O’Reilly and Ben Greiner, 8-0.