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Concord tennis teams starting from different places as new season begins

  • Concord High School senior, Kristin Womack, during tennis practice on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at Memorial Field in Concord. MELISSA CURRAN

  • Concord High boys' tennis coach Dave Page (back row center, blue short) poses with the Algonquin Tennis Center 4.0 men's team after winning the 2018 New England Championship to earn a trip to Nationals. Page will be stepping down this season after 30 years of high school coaching - 17 at Concord High and 13 at Bow. Courtesy—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 4/12/2021 11:27:06 AM

The Concord High boys’ tennis team hasn’t been to a Division I final since 2015, and hasn’t win a title since 2007. Still, the Crimson Tide has been one of the top teams in the state year after year, a threat to win any match and a team that usually makes noise in the playoffs.

The expectations, however, will be different this year for Concord. Since last season was canceled due to the coronavirus, most teams around the state will enter this season with question marks and holes to fill. The Tide will just have more questions and holes than most.

There is no one of the Concord roster who has been in the top six of a varsity high school tennis team. Junior Finn Conery was the No. 8 player for Concord in 2019, when the Tide went 10-5 and lost in the quarterfinals, and played in a few varsity doubles matches when the outcome had already been decided in singles. Junior Daniel Pedersen was also on the team in 2019, but he was a practice squad player.

“This may be the least experienced team I’ve worked with in 30 years of coaching,” said Dave Page, who is in his 17th year as Concord’s head coach after spending 13 years at Bow High. “Beyond our top three we essentially have a roster full of beginner tennis players. The kids are athletic, coachable and doing their best to assimilate a lot of new concepts. We are simply starting from a different place than we generally have in the past. With every team eligible for the state tournament this year, we are able to focus on getting better every day in hopes of being competitive with most opponents by season’s end.”

Conery, Pedersen and sophomore Finn Brown will be the top three in some order. Brown and Pedersen take regular lessons and have solid strokes, but both are new to team competition. Page said that, “Conery is a patient player whose style makes him a difficult matchup. (After the top three), we’ll have to see who emerges to claim the rest of the lineup spots.”

Page does have an interesting group of athletes to work with, even if they are new to tennis. Junior Tyler Coskren was just part of hockey championship with the Concord High team, and he was on the All-Star baseball team that went to the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series in 2018. Senior David Bean and junior Kody Rashed are both wrestlers, and Rashed was the 2020 D-I runner-up at 182 pounds. Senior Knox Brown and freshman Carter Pratt round out the varsity roster.

This group of newcomers is fortunate to have Page showing them the way. He is a full-time tennis enthusiast as a coach, p layer and fan and can pass on the sport’s fundamentals and traditions. He is also stepping down after this year, so this will be the last team to receive his wisdom as a head coach.

It’s a different situation on the girls’ side, where five of the top six players are back for the Crimson Tide, including the top four. Eleanor Malette and Leila Spires return to the top of the ladder for Concord, Joanna Dustin is back at No. 3 and Kristin Womack returns at No. 4. Laura Houle at No. 5 is the lone newcomer to the top six, and Emily Ahlfeld is back at No. 6.

While Page has been coaching for decades, 2019 was the first year for Concord girls’ coach Ashley Silva, who returns this season.

All the Concord coaches and players, new and experienced, won’t have to wait long to see where they stack up against the best in D-I. The teams open thier season this week with home-and-home series against Bedford. The Bulldogs have won seven straight boys’ titles and four of the last five girls’ titles, including 2018 and 2019.


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