High Schools: Hewey, Lambert prevail under pressure to help Concord boys’ tennis advance
Concord High School 's Greg Cistulli plays during a match against Pinkerton in the boys' division I quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
Concord High School 's Justin Toler serves the ball during a match against Pinkerton in the boys' division I quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
When Concord faced Pinkerton Academy in the regular season, Crimson Tide junior Evan Hewey didn’t win a game at No. 3 singles against Josh Gaudette. And when the two were facing off again in yesterday’s Division I boys’ tennis quarterfinal, Hewey quickly found himself in another hole.
“When I was down 5-2 I was thinking, ‘Oh, here we go again,’ ” Hewey said. “But then I thought to myself, ‘You can come back, and it’s gonna happen.’ ”
Calling on a mental strength he couldn’t always find during the season, Hewey fought back for an 8-6 win that put second-seeded Concord in position to clinch things during singles. The Tide did just that when No. 6 Mattias Lambert claimed a dramatic 9-7 decision to give Concord (14-1) a 5-1 win (no doubles were played) over the No. 7 Astros (8-7) and a spot in tomorrow’s semifinal against No. 3 Exeter, the team that beat the Tide in last year’s semifinals.
“Most of the year I couldn’t have come back from this, but I figured I could do it in playoffs,” Hewey said. “Not that I should have waited for the playoffs, but it was the right time to do it.”
Gaudette served and passed well to build the early lead before Hewey dug deep. Not only did he get his mind right, but he started approaching on Gaudette’s backhand, just like Tide Coach Dave Page told him to do. That advice helped Hewey reel off five straight games, a streak that ended when Gaudette’s backhand started finding the range. Hewey then began attacking Gaudette’s forehand, and the change of strategy worked again as Hewey won the final two games to complete the comeback.
“Evan had a stronger will today than he did in the regular season match (which Concord won, 7-2), and he’s got more game now,” Page said. “He has more ways to win points, like coming into the net, and from a competitive standpoint he’s much tougher. That’s something we’ve really been on him about, what it means to be a competitor and how to dig deep. It’s a process, but he’s taken some big steps forward and today was probably one of the biggest.”
That win put Concord up 4-1 and shifted all the attention to the No. 6 court, where Lambert was trailing Pinkerton’s Jack Bisson. The added pressure of all the spectators seemed to invigorate Labert, who fought off two match points on Bisson’s serve to draw even at 7-7. The Concord sophomore was pumping his fist when he held serve in a deuce game to go up 8-7, and then the whole team was celebrating when Lambert hit a forehand winner to claim a three deuce game and clinch the match with his 9-7 win.
“Evan and Mattias really played some of their best tennis under pressure when it mattered most,” Page said. “And that’s probably the difference between us being done (in singles) and being out there for doubles tied at 3-3.”
The Tide’s three other wins came quickly as No. 1 Greg Cistulli (8-0), No. 2 Justin Toler (8-2) and No. 5 Thomas Bengtson (8-4) all took care of business with little trouble. Bengtson was actually the first one off the court as he used his superior athleticism, an effective forehand and good work at the net to beat Pinkerton’s Sean Hall. Toler finished just minutes later against Patrick Doolittle to give Concord an early 2-0 lead.
“I was hitting consistently, but my serve wasn’t doing so great,” Toler said. “So I just tried to focus on what I needed to do to hit my serve in and playing the point from there.”
Cistulli lost just two points in the first three games, dominating Pinkerton’s Felix Benz with his power and attacking style. Benz battled in the latter stages of the match, taking four of the last five games to deuce, but Cistulli refused to concede anything.
“There were a couple close games,” Cistulli said, “but I was feeling pretty good.”
Pinketon’s lone point came at No. 4 where Michael Thomson used a booming serve to beat Josh Pifer, 8-3.
“When it comes to state tournaments, no matter what the seedings are, you know you’re in for a tough match and that was definitely the case today,” Page said. “They’re well-coached and they’ve really played well at the end of the year. We knew we were in for a battle and that’s what happened. I was proud of our guys because we really kept our composure, and that’s something that we’ve been trying to stress with them, reacting well under pressure and adversity.”
Concord 20, Nashua South 2
Concord (7-9) wasted no time asserting itself on senior night, beating winless South soundly for the second time this season.
Nearly every player in the Tide lineup scored, with Concord making the extra pass to try to get everyone – including defenders – on the scoresheet.
Mary Annon, one of four seniors along with Lexi Erickson, Aly Beaulieu and Hannah Bouchard, scored three times to pace the attack. Erickson, Beaulieu, Adelaide Symmes, Sarah Ek and Grace Orzechowski all added a pair of goals.
“They all played very well,” Concord Coach Steph Johnson. “There was a lot of good passing, good teamwork.”
Lebanon 14, Hopkinton 8
Lebanon (9-4), which had lost to Hopkinton, 13-6, early in the season, turned the tables in the rematch. The loss leaves the Hawks at 8-6 heading into the Division III tournament next week.
Meg Hemmerlein led the Hawks with four goals and was strong in the midfield, causing four turnovers. Elizabeth Hancock scored a pair and Caroline Sweny and Izzy Gesen also scored. Hannah Bassett added an assist.
Timberlane 11, Concord 1
Picking up where it left off May 8 offered no benefit for the Crimson Tide (10-6), as the resumption of a game that was suspended with the Owls leading 4-1 in the bottom of the third only allowed Concord to see Timberlane finish a five-run third and seal the game with a four-run sixth.
Braden Smith had a double and drove in Concord’s lone run, and Mitch Hayes went 2-for-3.
Bishop Brady 10, Franklin 7
The Green Giants rallied from a 7-6 seventh-inning deficit with four runs in the frame, getting the tying and winning runs on a single by Max Sokul, who finished the day with five RBI.
Casey Anderson had a two-run triple and also doubled for Brady (3-12), which scored four runs in the fourth to erase a 2-0 deficit and then, following a Franklin rally, pushed across two more in the fifth to tie the game at 6. Jourdain Bell had three hits and scored three runs, Tom Pelchat had two hits and two runs and Martin Hecka had two hits to add to the Brady offense. Drew Kalil got the start on the mound, and Tim Harmon got the win while allowing just one unearned run in 32∕3 innings of relief.
Craig LeBrun went the distance for Franklin (1-14) while also picking up a single and a triple. Myles Lynch had a two-run triple, Robert Ellis had a two-run single, Alex Turner had an RBI double and Brandon Gagnon had a double and a single to lead the Golden Tornadoes at the plate.
Conant 14, Hillsboro-Deering 2
Conant (11-3) scored in each of the first four innings to pull away from the Hillcats (3-12).
Danny Egner singled, Andrew Roberge doubled and Dan Kulbacki drove them both in with a single in the fifth to account for all of H-D’s runs.
Conant 11, Hillsboro-Deering 0
The Hillcats (2-13) came up empty on the scoreboard for a fourth straight game, running into a strong Conant (12-2) team that has posted three straight shutouts.
Sarah Egner had H-D’s lone hit and also had a strong game behind the plate, while outfielders Erin Delacy and Jocelyn Butler played solid defense.