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Feels like the first time: Lebanon boys tennis a champion again

  • Lebanon's Mason Arado, left, and Nolan Arado play during their doubles match in Bedford, N.H., on Saturday, June 5, 2021. Lebanon won the NHIAA Division II title. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon doubles partners Karsten Hansen, left, and Seamus Hickey react to a point during their match with Portsmouth on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in Bedford, N.H. Lebanon won the NHIAA Division II title. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Kian Schifferdecker in his singles match against Portsmouth on Saturday, June, 5, 2021 in Bedford, N.H. Lebanon won the NHIAA Division II title. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon tennis player Seamus Hickey hugs his grandmother Annemarie Hoffmeister after winning his single match on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in Bedford, N.H. Lebanon won the NHIAA Division II title. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon fans and players cheer on their team during the NHIAA championship on Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Bedford, N.H.Lebanon won the NHIAA Division II title. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Lebanon tennis team celebrates their win for the NHIAA Division II title in Bedford, N.H. on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/5/2021 10:22:50 PM
Modified: 6/5/2021 10:22:49 PM

BEDFORD, N.H. — Lebanon High senior Seamus Hickey didn’t always feel full support from his peers while playing for the Raiders’ boys tennis program. When he was younger, some would even poke fun at him for playing tennis.

Hickey got his vindication Saturday: Lebanon defeated Portsmouth. 7-2. to capture the NHIAA Division II state championship, the third in program history.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re like, ‘Tennis is a wimpy sport.’ We won a title, and you most likely didn’t,” Hickey said. “To be able to bring a title back to the high school is something that not a lot of teams can do. I’ve never been a position where I’ve won any sort of huge athletic title or anything. It is awesome. To have everything come together and just executed perfectly is like a dream come true.”

The Raiders previously won state titles in 2016 and 2017. Saturday’s victory completed an undefeated 10-0 season.

Tammy and Chad Arado took over the program as co-head coaches this season. Both work for River Valley Club tennis — Tammy is director of tennis, while Chad is the club’s head tennis professional.

Their sons, junior Mason and freshman Nolan, play the top two courts for the Raiders. They both dominated Saturday. Mason defeated Portsmouth’s Ryan Porter, 8-0, on the No. 1 singles court. Nolan won No. 2 singles, 8-2, over Addison Bloom. And the brothers teamed for an 8-2 doubles win over Porter and Bloom. That victory clinched the championship for Lebanon.

After exchanging pleasantries with their opponents, Mason and Nolan jumped into each other and soaked in the moment. That was special for Mason.

“It was crazy. I looked over and everybody was cheering,” Mason said. “Me and my brother went in there like, ‘If we win this, we win it.’ And the second we won it, it was just everything to us.”

Tammy Arado said it was very meaningful to win a state title in her first year as head coach, but watching her sons flourish filled her with even more pride.

“It’s an amazing feeling to coach them and to be their mom, and to see how they were able to rise to the occasion,” she said. “It was awesome.”

Senior Kian Schifferdecker earned an 8-3 win over Callum Stocker at No. 5 for the Raiders. Senior Karsten Hansen fell to Aidan Shilman, 8-2, at No 4, and sophomore Finn Ericson lost to Devon Starr, 8-6 at No. 6.

In doubles, Hickey and Hansen pulled out an 8-5 win over Shilman and Elliot Danley at No. 2, and senior Tyler St. Martin paired with senior Jake Hibner for an 8-6 win over Stocker and Starr at No. 3.

Hickey battled for an 8-4 singles win over Danley on the No. 3 singles court. He let out a primal scream in celebration after winning the final point.

His excitement over the triumph was about more than just winning in the state championship match. He felt that he hadn’t been tested all season until Saturday, and winning close matches had been difficult for him.

“It was my first match of the year that I really had to play at my best,” Hickey said. “And I felt like I pulled through in that respect. I didn’t have to go to a tiebreak. I didn’t have to fight through any close mental games. I was really, really excited that I could pull through in that one.”

Hickey’s teammates were noticeably excited about his win as well. He’s the team’s leader.

He recruited several athletes without tennis backgrounds to join the team this year, and some of those players, such as Hansen, became very important for Lebanon. Hickey pushed his teammates in practice, guided them to improve and ensured they had the right mentality and enjoyed themselves.

His peers looked up to him.

“He wanted this championship the most,” Mason Arado said. “He’s just the biggest aspect of our team. In practice, he’ll step out, he’ll teach us what to do, what behaviors to do, what shots to hit, just overall shows us the ways. Even though he’s not the best on the team, I think he’s the best on the team. I really do.”

After the match concluded, Lebanon and Portsmouth gathered to congratulate each other. An NHIAA representative awarded Lebanon the trophy, and Hickey was the first Raider to lay hands on it. He triumphantly raised it over his head in front of his cheering teammates and exclaimed, “Let’s go!”

Tammy said she didn’t come into this season knowing her team had the potential to win a state title. She knew she had talent and potential but also knew they would face challenges and hard work ahead. She said as the team practiced together more and she saw how competitive her players were, they started to realize they could do this.

Going into the championship match, the Raiders were nervous but confident. Coach Arado was tense about the big stage and simply reminded her team to play well and have fun. Hickey figured a school as big as Portsmouth — with a student body nearly twice as large as Lebanon’s — could produce a tough opponent, but he had faith in his teammates nonetheless.

As the Lebanon players finished their last matches, Coach Arado told them she was proud of them and that their hard work paid off.

She praised the effort they put in all season, their camaraderie and their dedication for making this championship possible.

“For the last six, seven weeks, however many weeks we’ve been doing this, we all have been a team together,” she said. “I don’t think very many kids missed practice. They were always engaged. They’d go out and practice a couple extra hours sometimes afterwards, just to learn the game a little bit more. It’s just been an amazing adventure.”

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.




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