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Tennis team captained by Concord man enjoys national tournament experience

  • The 18-and-over men’s 4.0 tennis team from the Algonquin Tennis Club in Hooksett gathers at the national championships in Texas last weekend. The team, which is captained by Concord resident Todd Toler, finished fifth in the 17-team event. Courtesy—

  • Zack Gould (left), Aidan Connor (center) and Rohit Yerram (right) at the USTA Men’s 4.0 National Championships in Texas last weekend. Gould went 4-0 in singles play, Yerram was 3-0 and Connor, a 2017 Concord High grad, was 1-0 during the championships. Their team, captained by Concord’s Todd Toler, finished fifth in the 17-team event. Courtesy—

Monitor staff
Published: 10/10/2018 7:41:05 PM

The tennis team captained by Concord resident Todd Toler was one of 17 sectional winners to qualify for the USTA Men’s 4.0 National Championships in Texas last weekend. In an event where the top four advance to the last rounds, the New Hampshire team finished … fifth.

Toler’s group missed out on the fourth-place spot on the second tier of tiebreakers – total sets lost. They went 3-1 as a team, posted a 12-8 record during individual matches and lost 22 total sets. A team from Waco, Texas, was 3-1 as a team and 12-8 individually, but lost only 20 sets, so it took the last spot of the final four.

“Having finished in fifth place by the narrowest of margins, less than an individual match, was certainly painful, especially for so many of us looking back at our individual match losses,” Toler said. “But in the end we discussed it together, you know the routine, going over the would-have, should-have scenarios, and we all agreed, finishing fifth was satisfying.”

A team representing the Caribbean eventually won the championship, beating a team from Florida for the 4.0 18-and-over men’s title. The 4.0 designation represents the level of play, which in this case is a high intermediate. There are also leagues and championships at other levels, 3.5 and 4.5 for example. The New Hampshire team, which plays out of Algonquin Tennis Club in Hooksett, finished first in the state league and won both district and sectional tournaments to qualify for nationals.

The New Hampshire team won both of its matches on the first day of nationals (which was held outside of Dallas), beating a team from Idaho, 3-2, and taking down Hawaii, 4-1. The team format is two singles matches and three doubles matches. The matches start with two six-game sets. If the sets are split, the match is decided by a 10-point tiebreaker.

Zack Gould, who graduated from Bedford High in 2017, won the No. 1 singles matches against both Idaho (6-4, 3-6, 1-0) and Hawaii (6-7, 6-4, 1-0) on the first day of play. Rohit Yerram, a 2018 Bedford grad, did the same at No. 2 singles: 5-7, 6-0, 1-0 against Idaho and 6-3, 6-2 against Hawaii. Adam Hirshan, a former Concord resident, was part of the winning No. 2 doubles team against Hawaii.

Toler’s team kept winning the next day, pulling out a 3-2 decision against Illinois in the morning. Aidan Connor, a 2017 Concord High grad, saved three match points at No. 2 singles on his way to a 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 win. Gould won at No. 1 singles again (7-6, 6-4) while Yerram and Mark Parquette picked up the third point at No. 3 doubles, 6-4, 3-6, 1-0.

The winning streak came to an end Saturday afternoon against a team from Phoenix. Gould (6-0, 6-3) and Yerram (6-4, 3-6, 1-0) won their singles matches, but the Arizona team swept all three doubles matches for the 3-2 decision.

“With all the energy and excitement built up from winning the first three matches, that last match was already pretty dramatic,” Toler said. “It was even more dramatic as the competition continued around us and we bunched up with other teams at 3-1.”

The drama ended with the narrow tiebreaker miss, but the trip was anything but a failure.

“Fun is an understatement. It was like Christmas morning every day,” Toler said. “We rented a huge house that accommodated 11 of our 14 players, and most of our spouses, and that housing decision was probably the best decision of the trip. We have all been close for some time, but the five days spent together under one roof, cooking, eating, socializing and playing every game possible was priceless. It cemented a lifetime memory for all of us.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

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