The Wildcats tried their luck: the boys’ tennis team eliminated by Martha’s Vineyard in the round of 16 | Sports
WILMINGTON — After smashing their way to victories in each of their first two postseason games, the Wilmington High Boys tennis team fell a bit short in their quest for a third straight win, dropping a hard-fought 3-2 decision for Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Division 3 State Tournament at Wilmington High, ending their momentous season.
With the loss, the No. 4 Wildcats finished their season with a 12-8 record, while No. 5 Martha’s Vineyard improved to 18-2 and advanced to the Final Four where faced the top seed. No. 1 Wayland.
The two state tournament victories are thought to have never happened before in the program’s history. In 1982, the ‘Cats finished the regular season 12-4 and went 1-1 in the tournament, beating Malden 4-1 and losing to Swampscott, 4-1. 1 singles player Bob Williams, the Merrimack Valley Conference MVP that season, finished 17–1 on aggregate.
The Wildcats couldn’t match that total of 13 wins, despite an absolutely terrific effort in the loss to MV.
“We played well, but I give credit to Martha’s Vineyard. They were solid in every position,” Wilmington coach Rob Mailey said.
The Wildcats got wins that day thanks to senior captain Anay Gandhi in first singles, as well as second Anuj Gandhi in second singles. Other than that, the incredible depth of the Martha’s Vineyard team doomed the Wildcats, who despite their best efforts couldn’t get another win.
The Wildcats’ two singles victories were hard-fought battles, starting with the first singles, where Anay Gandhi, in the last match of his great career with the Wildcats, scored a thrilling 7-5, 6-7 win. , 10-8, with the third set being played as a tiebreaker since the results of the overall match had already been decided.
Anuj Gandhi also won his match in thrilling fashion, winning by a score of 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, after trailing 3-0 in the third set.
“Anuj played really well. His opponent was very good, but I felt like Anay played his best game of the year,” Mailey said. “Both of them (Anay and Anuj) have been the heart and soul of our team all year.”
In third singles, after securing wins in each of the first two rounds of the tournament while replacing the injured Sidd Karani, junior Owen Mitchell was unable to secure a third straight win, dropping 6-1, 6 – 1.
“It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort,” Mailey said. “Owen played well, but the kid he played just didn’t miss. Even their coach said their third singles player was one of their team’s biggest strengths.
In the first doubles, sophomore duo Eric Packer and Sarthak Tripathi ran into a buzzsaw on the other side of the net and lost 6-0, 6-0, while in second doubles team sophomore Ryan Weinstein and freshman Michael Smaroff came up a bit short, falling 6-3, 6-3.
“That first doubles team was about as good as the one I’ve had since Lexington. I mean, they were just really good, and we couldn’t do much against them,” Mailey said. second doubles team played a competitive match, but we just couldn’t find the big points. They had their chances, but it just wasn’t meant to be”
While Mailey would obviously have liked to see his team take at least one more win and keep their season alive, he can always look back on this season with pride.
“Our regular season has been a success. Maybe not a success like last regular season when we were undefeated, but we definitely made up for it in the playoffs,” Mailey said. “This is the farthest the program has ever been since I’ve been at Wilmington, so I’m really proud of our guys.”
One of the players he is most proud of is the one he will lose at graduation, number one singles player and team captain Anay Gandhi. Gandhi has been with the Wildcats since seventh year as a second-team doubles player before moving up to No. 1 in singles. After an undefeated regular season (10-0) last year in first singles, this season he was 13-7 overall, including 3-0 in the playoffs and an 8-2 mark in the Middlesex Freedom Division.
“Words cannot describe what Anay has meant to this program, as a leader and as a player,” Mailey said. “In 25 years doing this job, at different schools, I don’t think I’ve ever had a better combination of a captain and a player. And he saved his best for the tournament, where he went 3-0. He was our only player to go undefeated in the tournament.
“When his game was still up for grabs, but the overall game had already been decided, he said to me, ‘I know this is my last game here in Wilmington, and I’m going to win it.’ went and did it. He’s a great boy, a great player and a great captain.”
With Anay gone, his younger brother Anuj, who will be a junior next season, will likely slip into the top singles role after playing second singles for the past two seasons. With Anuj, along with other key returning players like third singles player second Sidd Karani, as well as junior Owen Mitchell, who played doubles for most of the season before replacing an injured Karani in the post-season all back, the Wildcats should be very strong on offense next season.
Add to that some still-improving doubles players like sophomores Eric Packer, Sarthak Tripathi and Ryan Weinstein, as well as junior Srikar Mallajosyula and rookie Michael Smaroff, among others, and the Wildcats look set for another. successful season.
“Even though Anay is our only senior, he will be greatly missed,” Mailey said. “But I really feel like Anuj will work hard this off-season and be a legit number one next season. And with Sidd and Owen back, we should be very strong. And I think we’ll be even better. doubles next season. I feel good about the future of this team.