The Gilford boys' tennis team won its third consecutive NHIAA Division III state championship over Inter-Lakes 7-2 on Thursday afternoon. The Golden Eagles won four of six singles matches and swept the three doubles to clinch the title. "Every championship is special in its own way," Gilford coach Terry Wilson said.
The championship win capped a second consecutive undefeated season and the 50th straight win. "I wish I could have taped this senior class trying to play as freshman. They went from struggling to hit a ball to the polished team you saw today," added Wilson. The senior members of the Gilford squad went 62-4 during their high school careers with three titles and a semifinal appearance.
Gilford's Nolan Dwyer and Sam Shafique won their singles matches early over Liam Donahue and Tyler Reid 8-3 and 8-0 to give the Golden Eagles a quick 2-0 lead. Inter-Lakes bounced back with a pair of wins by Logan Goewey and Thomas Ainsworth to even the score at 2-2.
Laker Noah Sullivan gave Andrew Caulfield an early battle, winning a pair of sets to bring the match to 3-2 before Gilford's Caulfield pulled away for an 8-3 win and a 4-2 team lead. At the end of the singles matches, Inter-Lakes' only route to victory was by sweeping the doubles round.
"The way our season has gone I thought anything was possible," said Lakers coach Gill West. Inter-Lakes struggled early in the season, losing to Gilford 9-0 before bouncing back and winning the final four matches of the season to earn the sixth seed. "We really pulled together and were firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason," added West. "We were thrilled to make it here and compete as well as we did against the best team in the conference."
The doubles matches went Gilford's way beginning with the title clincher on the first court with Caulfield and Grant Workman topping Lakers Sullivan and Goewey 8-6. The Golden Eagles won the second and third doubles 8-4.
"This is a special group and are in the midst of a nice run to begin next season," finished Wilson.
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