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Hanover-Pinkerton semifinal showdown is washed away

  • Junior Will Blinkhorn waits with the Hanover boys tennis team for their opponent Pinkerton Academy to arrive for their NHIAA Division I semifinal at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Pinkerton arrived nearly 45 minutes late and then declined to move the matches indoors away from the rain. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Carly Miles, of the Hanover girls tennis team, takes cover from the rain before the boys' NHIAA Division I semifinal against Pinkerton Academy at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Pinkerton arrived nearly 45 minutes late and then declined to move the matches indoors away from the rain. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Freshman Kevin Pillsbury warms up with the Hanover boys tennis team while waiting for their opponent Pinkerton Academy to arrive for their NHIAA Division I semifinal at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Pinkerton arrived nearly 45 minutes late and then declined to move the matches indoors away from the rain, postponing their semifinal for the next day. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Sports Editor
Thursday, May 23, 2019

HANOVER — It’s here. It’s May. Of course it rained on the Hanover High boys tennis team.

Between light precipitation and a late-to-arrive foe, the second-ranked Marauders didn’t get to host their NHIAA Division I semifinal with No. 3 Pinkerton on Thursday. The Astros (13-2) didn’t reach the Storrs Pond Recreation Area courts until nearly 45 minutes after Thursday’s 4 p.m. scheduled start, and PA coach Brian Hashem declined to have the matches moved to Dartmouth College’s Boss Center as the rain increased.

So the two squads will reunite on Friday back at Storrs Pond, with Hanover (14-1) seeking its first D-I state final since moving up from D-II five years ago.

“They left later than they said they were going to leave because they did not get word that the match was still on,” Hanover coach Jarrod Shaheen said. “Apparently there was some sort of miscommunication.”

Before returning to his team’s van for the 90-minute ride back to Derry, Hashem pointed to section IV, line D1 of the NHIAA’s tennis policies and procedures: “The tournament is intended to be an ‘outdoor’ tournament. Only under emergency conditions and with the agreement of both schools, can the match be played indoors.”

Hashem said he didn’t consider Thursday’s situation to be an emergency. He did, however, express his displeasure about having to travel to Storrs Pond to Shaheen and Hanover girls tennis coach Liz Murray, who was serving as the on-site athletic director on Thursday, before heading home.

“Both teams have to agree to move it indoors,” Shaheen said. “One team did not agree to play indoors.”

A tight match is likely once the squads actually hit the court.

Pinkerton visited Hanover for a regular-season encounter on May 1, a 5-4 Marauder win that was ironically contested at Boss because of inclement weather. It was one of three one-point Hanover victories this season, one in which the Marauders have perhaps their best shot at a first Division I championship.

The two teams split the six singles points down the middle in their first get-together, the Astros taking 8-6 decisions at Nos. 1 and 3 as well as a 9-8 tiebreak victory at No. 4. Hanover claimed the match with wins at first and third doubles.

“The players are ready to go,” Shaheen said. “They’re loose mentally. They’re loose physically. I’m confident they’ll be able to perform as well tomorrow as they would have today.”

The top of the ladder — senior Aidan Biglow and freshman Evan Yang for Hanover countering PA’s Seb Tonini and John Marineau — could set the tone of the day for both teams.

Tonini outdueled Biglow for one of the Astros’ points earlier this month, but Biglow answered that by teaming with Yang for a first doubles decision over PA’s top two players. Yang also cruised at second singles, earning an 8-2 defeat of Marineau.

“Seb is a fantastic player who made it to the semis of the (NHIAA) individual tournament,” last year, Shaheen noted in a email report of the May 1 match. “But Aidan was able to match him and came up just a little bit short.”

Hanover was set to present the same lineup in Thursday’s semifinal, save for one change. Junior Andrew Enelow, normally Hanover’s No. 5 singles player and a No. 3 doubles teammate of junior Chris Lee, was ill and unavailable, leaving Shaheen to insert Trevor Siegel in Enelow’s place. Shaheen was uncertain if Enelow would be healthy enough to go in Friday’s redo. Junior Alec McDevitt and senior Gary Li were scheduled to handle third doubles in the place of Enelow and Lee.

The Marauders have enjoyed a gradual progression of success in D-I since making the move up in 2016. Hanover has qualified for states every year, falling in the quarterfinals the first three springs before being eliminated by six-time defending champion Bedford in a 5-4 semifinal last May.

The Marauders own a 56-22 record in D-I through Tuesday’s quarterfinal shutout of Dover.

“Each year, we’re improving,” Shaheen said. “Each year, we’re getting more talent. Each year, the kids are putting in more and more effort. And it’s wonderful to see.

“We started off pretty strong (in ’16). There’s an ebb and flow that’s natural in all divisions, I through III; some teams are strong than others, some teams go on runs and then students graduate. From year to year, it can be a little tricky to predict, but each year we’ve been improving.”

Pinkerton’s on a mission as well. The state’s largest school has yet to join D-I’s boys tennis royalty, with five runner-up finishes in more than 60 years of NHIAA sanctioning. The Astros nearly ended Bedford’s run last year, losing a 5-4 final. Pinkerton has never produced a state singles or doubles champion.

Friday’s winner will advance to the D-I state final on Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University. Friday’s forecast: cloudy with temps in the mid-60s ... and no rain.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.