A doggone shame: Bedford defeats Hanover for seventh straight D-I title

  • Hanover High's Evan Yang serves the ball in his singles match against Bedford during the NHIAA Division I boys tennis final at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, N.H., on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Yang won the match, 8-4. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High's Alex Rockmore plays in his singles match against Bedford during the NHIAA Division I boys tennis final at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, N.H., on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Rockmore lost the match. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High's Will Tarnowski reacts after losing his match against Bedford during the NHIAA Division I boys tennis final at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, N.H., on Thursday, May 30, 2019. Bedford won the championship, 7-2. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2019 9:50:14 PM

HOOKSETT, N.H. — Hanover High freshman Alex Rockmore dropped his tennis racket, let his hat fall onto the tennis court and put his head in his hands. The singles match against Bedford’s Derek Dong at the NHIAA Division I boys tennis championship had slipped away from him, a three-game lead erased and forgotten. He walked to the net to shake his opponent’s hand.

What he didn’t know was that the Bulldogs were pulling off come-from-behind victories all over the courts at Southern New Hampshire University, helping Bedford clinch its seventh consecutive D-I championship before doubles play even began.

Hanover, the tournament’s second seed in its first D-I final in program history, led four of its six singles matches against top-seeded, undefeated Bedford, but managed to turn only one of them into a victory as the Bulldogs clinched the title with a 5-1 lead. Bedford also took two of three doubles matches, eventually winning the championship match, 7-2.

“When I played him earlier in the season (during Hanover’s regular season loss to Bedford on May 3), he beat me 8-1,” Rockmore said. “You go up 4-1 and you’re feeling good. I kept playing the way I was playing. Credit to him. He stepped up his game. I wasn’t quite able to keep up. Overall, I thought it was a great match.

“When he came out to 6-5, — I had been up 6-4 and I had just won the last game — he served and I missed a couple. He started hitting a lot more confident,” he added. “That was big for him, it threw me off a bit.”

Freshman Evan Yang was Hanover’s lone winner in singles play, defeating Bedford’s Tyler Whitney, 8-4, at No. 2. But Rockmore’s loss at No. 3 singles, 8-6, and Will Tarnowki’s loss at No. 4, 8-6, left the Marauders feeling the sting of just how close they were to unseating Bedford’s hold on the D-I crown.

In the end, Hanover suffered an all-too-familiar fate.

“My team did what I asked them to do: lay it all out there on the court,” said Jarrod Shaheen, Hanover’s head coach. “They did. We came up short. We’re going to be a little bit upset. … We finally made it to a championship. We’re hungry for next year. We know we can hang.

“The matches, the score, as often happens among the elite in New Hampshire tennis, the final score doesn’t tell the truth about how close the match really was and competitive the match really was. The cliche holds: you had to be there.”

Rockmore, the quick and energetic rookie, jumped out to a 4-1 lead on Bedford’s Dong, commanding the court with aggressive plays at the net and accurate shots to the corners. But Dong took the next two games, trailing 4-3, then flipped a switch. He took a 6-5 lead and never looked back.

“It is different when you come out and play a real match,” Rockmore said of his freshman season. “It is a skill to be able to go out there, lose a point, take a breath and play the next one. I think I’m only going to improve upon that in the next few years.”

Tarnowski, a junior, was equally frustrated. He led Bedford’s Alex Tjie, 5-3, before losing three consecutive deuces. Hanover’s Andrew Enelow, a junior who was recovering from the flu, led early against Bedford’s Nick Bayer, eventually falling 8-3, as did teammate Trevor Siegel, who fell to Bedford’s Bohdan Higley at No. 6, 8-4. Aidan Biglow, one of Hanover’s two seniors along with Gary Li, lost to Bedford’s Jason Boucher at No. 1 singles, 8-2.

“At 5-3, I guess I just relaxed a bit too much,” Tarnowski said. “I thought he played really well. It was tough. … He just clutched it out. I don’t have anything bad to say about him, he was a great opponent.”

Biglow and Yang suffered a 9-7 defeat at No. 1 doubles, to Bulldogs’ pair Dong and Boucher, and Hanover’s Rockmore and Tarnowski lost at No. 2 doubles, 8-5. Marauders No. 3 doubles pairing of Alec McDevitt and Li rounded out the scoring, defeating Bedford’s Tjie and Bayer, 8-5.

“We came out guns blazing,” Shaheen said. “We had the depth and we held. But they ground it out, too. Our game plan is always to grind it out. They were able to match us today.

“I’d love another chance at them, because it could be a flipped result.”

Hanover fell to Bedford, 6-3, during a regular season match on May 3, and finished its season 15-2 overall — with both of its losses coming to the Bulldogs.

The Marauders will have eight seniors next season, including Enelow, McDevitt, Siegel, Tarnowski, Will Blinkhorn, Matt Bonner, Chris Lee and Tristan Meyer, as well as sophomore trio Rockmore, Yang and Kevin Pillsbury. They lose seniors Biglow and Li to graduation.

“Every year I’m excited because every year we’re making progress in terms of talent, technical skill, athleticism,” Shaheen said. “We’re definitely on an upward trajectory.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.




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