NATHAN CHOW and the MHS boy’s tennis were a surprise addition the MIAA Div. 2 playoff bracket. (Jennifer Gentile photo)


Young squad will return strong next spring



MELROSE—The Melrose High boy’s tennis team saw their tough regular season schedule pay dividends when they clinched a spot in the Div. 2 playoff field. Melrose drew the #28 seed and traveled to Sharon on the road on Tuesday for an opening round game in their first MIAA playoff of the COVID-19 era. While ultimately they lost to a tough Sharon team, 5-0, this playoff experience will pay dividends for this young team in the future.

According to coach Sam Stallings, this match allowed players to step up into the spotlight.  “We saw a great fight from junior Sean Donovan at first singles and Joseph Brady in third singles,” he notes. Both were added to the lineup after Melrose experienced two injuries. Donovan moved up from second singles and Brady was moved up as a junior varsity player to compete in third singles. Says Stallings, “They both took on the challenge and gave it all they had.”

Previously, in getting there, Melrose took an impressive 3-2 win over Stoneham to close the regular season on May 26. Taking victories were Patrick Stratford in first singles, Dan O’Donnell and Caleb Miller in first doubles and Ben Rossi and Nathan Chow in second doubles. Stratford would later fall to injury which contributed in part to Melrose’s struggles against Sharon. “Patrick had a strong win at 1st singles against Stoneham,” says Stallings. “He found a way to push through against an opponent with a frustrating play-style. Both doubles teams took care of business pretty handedly…they’ve been reliable for us for several matches now. Stoneham returned one of their top singles players in this match and that certainly strengthened their line-up. When healthy, Stoneham had some solid singles players that put their opponents to the test.”

Of course, taking on #5 seed Sharon proved a bit tougher. “We knew Sharon team would be a strong first round opponent, but we competed and made them work for their points. I believe we’ve improved as the season’s gone along.”

As for next year, with no seniors on the current squad, expect this team to be on the rise. These playoff-ready players see some of the best competition in the Middlesex League all year and that will only make them sharper, more experienced players in 2023. Says Stallings, “I’d like to see experience lead to more matches won. We’ve now experienced just about every situation possible in high school tennis, and now we need to improve on being able to take opportunities we get and capitalizes on mistakes so that we can win more. We doubled our win total from last year. I’d like us to get above .500 next year.”