Westford Academy wins over Newton South


Saudip Manna facing Newton’s Troy Manditch.

Conor Bellone, Staff Writer

Last Wednesday’s WA Boys’ Varsity Tennis match brings the team one match closer to winning the state championship. Winning over the Newton South Lions, WA’s current ranking has been brought up to 11 and 2.

Meeting at Robinson Elementary, the Westford team entered with enthusiasm, with smiles on their faces and jokes being made between the members.

Probably the closest team I’ve ever had. There’s obviously infighting like brothers, but [a] very close team. By far the most fun I’ve ever had with a team…” Coach Paltsios said.

Paltsios also predicted about how the match would go.

“This is, unfortunately for Newton, probably the weakest team I’ve ever seen them have. They’re missing [some important positions] which in our league kills you. So today’s match we’re missing [one of our positions]. So, should be a close match today, as a great equalizer.”

Junior, Matt Vlach was very clear about the goal of the team.

We’re trying to win the state championship this year…” Vlach said.

Both teams put up a good fight for a win. Westford’s Coach Paltsios spoke of the important Westford players, including Freshman Oliver Davey, who plays singles, and Saudip Manna.

Davey puts his heart into the game. Hitting the ball with impressive power and precision. Each stroke was met with a powerful grunt, and each missing stroke was met with a noise of frustration. But his work wasn’t enough, losing both sets to Newton’s Ben Kurland 2-6 and 0-6.

Manna on the other hand, was able to win his sets, but he was well matched by Newton South’s Troy Manditch.

Manna is a true expert at the game. He darts across the court making strokes with great power and skill. It seems that his strokes sometimes get out of hand, but he was able to keep control of the game to win both sets: 6-2 and 6-1.

The last singles match was WA’s Karthik Prakash versus Newton’s Ethan Chow. Though fast on his feet, he was having an off day, losing both sets 2-6 and 3-6.

During the matches, the opposing coaches weighed in on the way the score would turn.

“It’s a tight match-could go either way.,” said Newton’s Coach Palilunas. Coach Peter Paltsios thought the same thing.

“It’s a very close match. It’s all gonna come down to the doubles.” Palmists said.

And the doubles’ sets didn’t dissappoint. Westford Academy’s Shray Gurtata and Tommy Welham faced Michael Dunayerskiy and Kavi Sabery. The match began with enthusiasm and humor from both sides of the court. Welham and Gurtata laughed and joked between strokes and Dunayerkiy once turned to me, smiled and said something along the lines of: “If I do a trick shot, get the picture”.

But as the match dragged on, this good humor turned to aggression. Welham muttered under his breath in frustration after missing a stroke. But all the work payed off with a WA win in two of the three sets: 6-0, 4-6 and 6-0.

But perhaps the most evenly matched pair was the doubles match between Westford’s Matt Vlach and Eric Han versus Newton’s Gabe Nissenbaum and Jake Schwartz. Han’s strokes were either perfect or a little lacking and Vlach had some trouble against Newton as well.

Han was frustrated with his some of his imperfect shots, but Vlach managed to keep moral up with a friendly fist bump and a few words of wisdom after each couple of strokes. Newton put up a fight but WA overcame with a win in all three of their sets: 6-7, 6-2 and 6-2.

Coach Paltsisos seemed proud of the pairs’ peformance, saying:

“Eric Hand and Matt Vlach were the hero[e]s today.” Paltsios said.

With an overall win for WA the team is brought one step closer to the state championship.