NEWTON - The Wayland boys’ tennis team did not get off to a promising start in Tuesday’s Division 2 state final at Newton North High.
Facing Sharon, which was undefeated at 20-0 entering the championship, the Warriors dropped their two doubles matches to leave coach Shawn Powers feeling uneasy.
“There was a lot of doubt, plenty of doubt,’’ Powers said. “Early on, everybody was down in their first set, and way down, too. And we lost our first set in third singles, too.’’
Despite the early adversity, Wayland’s underclassmen saved the day. Freshman Will Sharton, sophomore Jon Goodman, and sophomore Ethan Hecker rallied to sweep their singles matches and help the Warriors defeat the Eagles, 3-2.
“The three singles have been a strength all season, and yes they did start slow today,’’ Powers said. “Maybe they had some nerves, I don’t know.’’
Sharon jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to its doubles teams. Eric Bloom and Jake Steinberg defeated Drew Levey and Tommy Davlin, 6-1, 6-3, in the first doubles match, while Josh Dobbin and Ben Gilman teamed to beat Jackson Hubbell and Josh O’Neil, 6-4, 6-3 in second doubles.
Sharton earned Wayland’s first win of the afternoon when he took down Vivek Nangia, 7-5, 6-2, in first singles. Hecker shook off a poor first set in his third singles draw against Aditya Puttigampala and bounced back to win, 1-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Powers believes his players thrive late in matches because of their conditioning.
“They’ve trained hard, and not just with tennis,’’ he said. “We’ve run hills and a lot of sprints. Especially in that third singles match you could see it. In the second set, [Puttigampala] just couldn’t hang. [Hecker] could have gone another three sets.’’
The wins from Sharton and Hecker meant the state title would be decided between Goodman and Sharon’s Peter Hu in the second singles match. It was nearly the exact same scenario Goodman had been in Saturday in the North Sectional final against Reading.
Like he did three days prior, Goodman delivered by rallying to win the first set, 7-5, and closed with a 6-3 decision in the second set.
Though it was the underclassmen that sealed the win, Powers credited his senior captains, Levey and Hubbell, for the team’s overall success.