Derryfield Boys Tennis Team Making a Racket in D-I

Cougars off to 5-0 start to 2021 season

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MANCHESTER, NH – Rust? What rust?

Nearly two years removed from competing on the varsity court, the Derryfield School boys tennis team has shown no ill effects from the long layoff. The Cougars – competing with three first-year varsity players on their ladder – have clawed their way to a 5-0 start, outpacing opponents 41-4 in singles and doubles matches.

“These guys were so ready for the season,” said Derryfield head coach Michael Leary. “Last season was a crushing blow because they couldn’t play, and I really think these guys wanted to be out here, and they put in the work to be mentally and physically prepared.”

In fact, the Cougars have blanked their opponents in four of five competitions to date, with all four match blemishes coming to fellow D-I powerhouse Exeter in a statement 5-4 road win on April 15.

Derryfield’s most recent triumph came on a windy Thursday afternoon, blowing past visiting Spaulding of Rochester, 9-0, on April 22.

Chris Van Natta hitting a tennis ball
Derryfield’s Chris Van Natta beat Spaulding’s Cam Molinaro, 8-3, on the No. 3 single’s court.

Led by sophomore standout Jack Schroeder, who defeated Spaulding’s Nick Gagnon, 8-0, on the first court, the Cougars swept through single’s play against the Red Raiders.

Derrfield sophomore Jack Schroeder
Sophomore Jack Schroeder didn’t give up a point in singles or doubles play Thursday.

Seniors Christopher Lynch, Chris Van Natta, and Max Smith followed suit, winning, 8-2, 8-3 and 8-0, respectively, while freshman Jack Krasnof earned an 8-1 triumph and Jeremy Gagnon won, 8-6.

Then, in doubles action, Schroeder and Lynch teamed up on the first court, and Van Natta and Smith paired on the second court, each taking 8-0 victories, and then Krasnof and Logan Goldberg closed out with a triumph on the third court.

A big part of the Cougars success so far has been the leadership of captains Lynch, Van Natta and Smith, said Leary, but the sixth-year head coach also credited his youngsters, including Schroeder at the top of the ladder, as well as freshman lefties in Krasnof and Billy Gardner in his five and six spots and third doubles pairing.

“These guys have all exceeded my expectations,” Leary said, “so now the bar is much higher, so my goal is for us to beat the teams we should and to just win as much as we can the rest of the season and hopefully finish top-3 in Division I, which I think is a really realistic goal for us.”

The next couple weeks will likely be telling for the Cougars in terms of playoff positioning.

Senior Christopher Lynch
Derryfield’s Christopher Lynch won a a singles game with this soft touch volley that just cleared the net.

Beginning with back-to-back tough matchups with fellow D-I contender Hanover (first at home on Monday, April 26, and then on the road Friday, April 30), Derryfield then has two upcoming clashes with seven-time defending state champs Bedford on May 7 and 13.

“Bedford’s really tough,” said Leary. “Our job is going to be giving Bedford a run for its money. Bedford has just such a deep lineup and they’re so good from one to eight or nine, so it’s going to be a tough road against them, but we’re going to give them the hardest time we can.”

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ryanoconnor

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.