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Depth carries Hanover to its first D-I boys tennis final

  • Mac, the 11-month-old yellow Labrador puppy of Hanover High boys tennis player Tristan Meyer, gets a taste of a tennis ball during the Marauders' NHIAA Division I semifinal with Pinkerton at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 24, 2019. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High freshman Alex Rockmore returns a backhand to Pinkerton's Henry Andrew in their third singles match during an NHIAA Division I boys tennis semifinal at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 24, 2019. Rockmore rallied for an 8-4 win, part of the Marauders' 5-4 team victory. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High senior Aidan Biglow changes the score in his first singles match with Pinkerton's Seb Tonini during an NHIAA Division I boys tennis semifinal at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 24, 2019. Although Biglow lost his match, 8-2, the Marauders claimed the day, 5-4, to make their first D-I final since joining the division five years ago. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High boys tennis coach Jarrod Shaheen talks to his players after pre-match introductions for an NHIAA Division I semifinal with Pinkerton at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 24, 2019. The second-seeded Marauders took a 5-4 decision from the third-ranked Astros to make the D-I state final for the first time since joining the division five years ago. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High freshman Evan Yang serves to Pinkerton's John Marineau in their second singles match during an NHIAA Division I boys tennis semifinal at Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 24, 2019. Yang won his match, 8-6, to help the Marauders to a 5-4 team victory. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Sports Editor
Friday, May 24, 2019

HANOVER — Creatures of habit, such as Hanover High junior Trevor Siegel, like their routines. But there was very little routine about the Marauders’ NHIAA Division I boys tennis semifinal win over Pinkerton Academy on Friday.

Had teammate Andrew Enelow not come down ill this week, Siegel might very well have been watching the Marauders and Astros trade blows instead of delivering them on the Storrs Pond Recreation Area courts. Siegel made quick work of his singles foe for a lead Hanover wouldn’t relinquish in an eventual 5-4 decision that didn’t come easily.

As it so often does at this level of the game, depth won the day for second-ranked Hanover (15-1). Wins at the bottom two slots of the singles ladder — one of them occupied by Siegel — and a third doubles decision by two players who had to wait nearly two hours to take the court made the difference for the Marauders, who qualified for their first D-I final since joining the division five years ago.

“To play filling in makes me very nervous,” said Siegel, who looked anything but in an 8-0 blanking of the Astros’ Alex Tveter. “It does show of our team that we are good enough to play our (No. 13) at 4 and can switch around our 1 to 6. Whatever we do, we’ll come out as a very strong team, because every single player has something that makes them special.”

Hanover will meet six-time defending champion Bedford for the state championship on Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University. The Bulldogs eliminated Exeter in their semifinal on Thursday; the Marauders needed an extra day to oust the Astros (13-3) after their initial attempt to play on Thursday was rained out.

Freshmen Evan Yang and Alex Rockmore gutted out singles wins to get Hanover started. Junior Chris Lee upped the Marauders’ advantage to 4-2 through singles with an 8-0 shutout of Anthony Walters at No. 6.

And still nothing was guaranteed for Hanover. Knowing it had to sweep doubles to advance, Pinkerton clawed itself into all three matches before the Marauders’ Alec McDevitt and Gary Li pulled away late for an 8-5 win at No. 3 over PA’s Tveter and Robbie Morin.

“We came in and we knew we had to play as well as we did last time (a 5-4 home win on May 1),” Rockmore said. “When it gets to 4-2, you feel good. But then all of a sudden, you look around and all of the courts are really close matches. You start to feel, ‘This isn’t over.’

“But our 3 dubs came in huge. That was incredible. … The people who had to come in big came in really big.”

Pinkerton recorded the first point of the afternoon — Seb Tonini’s 8-2 defeat of Hanover No. 1 Aidan Biglow — before Yang and Rockmore made their presences felt.

Neither freshman played as if out of his element. An 8-2 winner over Marineau in their regular-season encounter, Yang had to work much harder to get an 8-6 victory on Friday. In a tight affair, Yang broke Marineau’s serve at 3-3 and used that advantage to grind out the win.

Rockmore’s 8-4 decision at third singles came in similar fashion. The Hanover ninth-grader shook off a slow start to put away Henry Andrew with a deep cross-court backhander on match point.

“When I went down, 3-0, I knew I had to change something up,” said Rockmore, who lost to Andrew in the May 1 meeting. “I started hitting the ball softer, not trying to kill the ball, like my normal game plan. When it was 4-4 and I broke him to take a 5-4 lead, that was huge.”

So was Siegel. The junior is one of those interchangeable parts that has made Hanover so potent this spring, but so much had to change for him in the past year to reach that point.

“I used to have a really big problem with temperament; I used to not be able to keep myself together,” Siegel said. “Last year, I was really lucky to play doubles with my brother (Matty), and he was the one to sit me down and say, ‘‘Look, this is where you are; this is where you need to be.’ He was the one who gave me the road map to the way I should be as a tennis player.”

For Siegel, that means sticking to routines.

“I’ve eaten the same sandwich at school the last year and a half,” he said. “I like routine and being able to tell myself the same thing over and over again, bouncing the ball the same number of times. Being able to have that keeps me calm and reminds me that, no matter what happens, I win the point, I lose the point, the same thing happens again and again.”

Rockmore and junior Will Tarnowski appeared destined to clinch the match at second doubles only to have PA’s Andrew and Jeff Marquis fight back to take a late lead. That rebellion became moot when McDevitt and Li clinched Tuesday’s finals trip.

“This team consistently gets feedback from opposing coaches that this is one of the deepest teams they’ve seen,” Hanover coach Jarrod Shaheen said. “I can put anyone anywhere, and they can perform as the teams needs it to. It’s their talent, their all-in attitude. They grind, they’re hard workers and they want to get the job done.”

Aces: Siegel’s sandwich of choice: a wrap with turkey, lettuce, banana peppers, pickles and mayonnaise. “It’s called the Trevor,” he grinned, “after me.” … Hanover junior Tristan Meyer’s 11-week-old yellow Labrador puppy, Mac, drew plenty of attention, alternately eating weeds, corralling a tennis ball and being carried around to spectators. … Pinkerton claimed the final two matches, 9-7 at second doubles and 8-4 at first doubles, after Hanover clinched the team win. … Bedford has beaten Pinkerton, Derryfield (twice), Concord, Keene and Exeter during its six-year championship run. … John Pelkey, the Astros’ assistant coach, arrived — and departed — on a three-wheel Harley-Davidson motorbike. “I’ve done that for 32 years,” Pelkey said of riding school buses to matches. “I’m over it.”

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