Brayden Binder of Bow: Boys’ Tennis Player of the Season

  • Bow’s Brayden Binder serves during the Division III championship against Gilford. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow’s Brayden Binder has been the team’s No. 1 player for the past three seasons, and his play down the stretch led Bow to a Division III crown. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 6/27/2018 10:00:02 PM

He crowned a four-year varsity career by winning the Division III title in his final match, but that’s not how Brayden Binder thought the season was going to end for the Bow boys’ tennis team.

“Honestly, this is the year I thought was going to be a little bit of a rebuilding year because we lost two seniors from last year’s team (the 2017 D-III runner-up), Mike Mullen and Evan Alfano, and they were basically guaranteed wins, so this year coming into it I was a little hesitant,” Binder said. “But I knew I was the best I ever was, I knew Caleb (Olson) was going to get even better than he was and I knew we always had depth, that’s how we compete. So I knew we’d be good, but I just didn’t know how good we’d be.”

The jury was still out on how good they would be late in the season. Bow lost to Conant in April and fell to Profile in May. The Falcons were 8-2 after that loss, a good record to be sure, but if they couldn’t beat the Orioles or the Patriots, how could they compete for the D-III title against five-time defending champion Gilford, the team that hadn’t lost since 2012?

Led by Binder, Bow answered that question on May 19 in the last match of the regular season. Binder beat Gilford’s Christian Workman, 8-3, the first time in the 11-year tenure of Bow coach Drew Groves that his No. 1 player beat Gilford’s No. 1. Binder’s win paved the way for a 5-2 Falcons win, which ended the Golden Eagles’ winning streak at 97.

“(Binder) constructed each and every point in ways that he was in control and was aggressive,” Groves said after that match. “From the beginning, he was in control. He played patient, constructive tennis. Clearly his best win of the season, one of the best matches of his career.”

That win sent Bow into the playoffs with major momentum and the Falcons capitalized. They rolled to a 7-2 quarterfinal win against No. 7 Inter-Lakes and another 7-2 win in the semifinals against No. 3 Conant to set up a finals date with, who else, Gilford.

“I’ve waited four years for this. The first day I was here as a freshman it was Gilford, Gilford, Gilford. The first match I watched (when he was in middle school) was between Bow and Gilford,” said Binder, who played No. 2 for Bow as a freshman and was the team’s No. 1 the last three seasons.

Again Binder beat Workman in the finals, this time by an 8-4 score. And again the Falcons took care of business in singles, winning five of the six singles matches on their way to a 7-2 win. It was the fourth title for the program and the first since 2002.

“We were a little up and down as a team this season, same with my own record, it was up and down,” Binder said. “I didn’t have my best year record-wise, but play-wise I put it all on the court this year and I tried my hardest, and so did all these guys.”

Because of that up-and-down record Binder wasn’t invited to the individual tournament, although that felt like an unfair exclusion. But it didn’t matter to the Bow senior – he got to share in a title.

“He is about the team,” Groves said. “He is all about this whole group of guys.”

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