Undefeated Red Raiders tourney bound in a historic season  

JACK MAYS has been a strong singles player for the tourney-bound Red Raider team, who enjoyed back to back wins this week to stay undefeated in the Middlesex Freedom League. (Donna Larsson photo)

JACK MAYS has been a strong singles player for the tourney-bound Red Raider team, who enjoyed back to back wins this week to stay undefeated in the Middlesex Freedom League. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE — The incredible season of the Melrose High boys’ tennis team continues and it’s veering toward making history at Melrose High School. Last season when the team clinched a share of the Middlesex Freedom League, it had been the first time in 70 years it had been done. That’s not a misprint. Seventy years. Now, the team sits undefeated in the Middlesex Freedom League at 7-0 and 11-3 overall (as of press time). Last week the Red Raiders qualified for their fourth straight playoff appearance. This very well might be the best recorded team ever for Melrose High School and there is still plenty of tennis left.

“This has been an exciting season and we’re just pumped to performing the way we are,” said head coach Matt Williams. “We’re happy our seniors are performing at their best and our younger, newer players are not only getting into matches but winning. We’re thrilled.”

Melrose continued their domination in the Middlesex Freedom League with back-to-back wins over Stoneham (5-0) on Thursday, May 7 and Wilmington (5-0) on Monday, May 11. The matches were a chance for Williams to fiddle with his usual lineup and put in new players who rose to the challenge. Against the Spartans Melrose enjoyed wins by junior captain Julian Nyland in first singles, senior Rowan Dempster in second singles and Caleb Zimmerman in third singles. In doubles they enjoyed wins from Joe Connolly and Liam Singleman in first doubles, and Cedric DeMayo and Ryan Locke in second.

On Monday the team took a victory over Wilmington 5-0 which included a hard-fought battle by Julian Nyland in first singles that resulted in a 3-0 victory. “Julian really fought that one out, it was a great win for him, he’s been on a hot streak,” says his coach. Jack Mays won in second singles, while freshman Caleb Zimmerman also prevailed 6-0, 6-1. In doubles the reliable team of Liam Brown and Joe Hughes took victory along with Sam Stallings and Cedric DeMayo.

What sets this team apart this season is the amount of depth they have from top to bottom. “This is the best we’ve played since I’ve coached,” says Williams. “We have depth that spans each class. Our work ethic is to limit mistakes, force the opponent to make them and really focus on our positioning, especially with our doubles teams. It’s important to be patient and grind out a win, even if it takes two hours to do it. They’ve learned that and it’s helped us all season.”

Now, Melrose is headed to playoffs, where they aren’t expected to be a one-and-done kind of team, they’re expected to be contenders. Melrose is projected to finish with anywhere up to 13-14 wins this season and that could put them on the higher end of MIAA seedings, meaning it’s quite possible that Melrose would host a first round playoff match at Crystal Street courts.

“We’re pumped right now,” says Williams. “One of our goals is to obtain a home court advantage in playoffs, which would also be a first for us.”

First on tap is a rematch against Burlington. At press time they were slated to play them Wednesday (post deadline). Melrose beat them by a whisker earlier in the season and last year the two teams shared a league title. Should the Red Devils prevail, odds are Melrose will share a title with them once again. If Melrose should win, the Red Raiders will likely take the league outright and enjoy an undefeated season, a historic first for Melrose.

“Burlington is a tricky team and that first match was wild,” says Williams. “It will be a tougher challenge. I scouted them last week and they have some strong singles. We need to bring our best.”

Win or lose, no doubt these relentless Raiders will leave it all on the court.


Remaining Schedule  

Wed. 5/13  @ Burlington, 3:30 p.m.

Thu. 5/14 vs. Wakefield, 3:30 p.m.

Mon. 05/18 vs. Watertown. 3:30 p.m.

Wed. 5/20 vs. Medford, 3:30 p.m.