Boys’ Tennis Sweep Aside Xaverian To Open State Tournament; Next Up #1 St. John’s Prep

Photo: Belmont High’s Julian Wong finishing off a point against Xaverian in the MIAA D1 opener

In its opening match of the MIAA Division 1 state championship, the 16th-ranked Belmont High Boys’ Tennis squad swept aside 17th seed Xaverian Brother, 5-0, on Wednesday, May 29, and now awaits a likely trip to Danvers to face top ranked and undefeated St. John’s Prep (17-0).

Belmont’s (11-6) top two singles, senior Charlie Osborn and junior Julian Wong, made quick work of their Hawks’ opponents, with Osborn winning 6-0, 6-1 in 35 minutes and Wong 6-4, 6-0.

“I wasn’t down ever in the match, I had a pretty good start,” said Wong, who was sporting a nifty new haircut for the playoffs. “I was up 5-2 in the first when I had a bit of a mental gap and he came back to 5-4. So I just had to really focus that and game and play it through. Of course, a ton of my friends came out today and it was really great.”

Yet after going down 2-0, the Hawks kept a narrow path to sneak out of The Town of Homes with a minor upset.

“Xaverian (9-8) was staying in the mix while putting pressure on our third singles and doubles teams,” said Dave Benson, now in his third year as the Marauders’ head coach.

But as they have done throughout the season, Belmont’s doubles came through with victories. First pairs of senior Ben Miller and junior Henry Moriarty were extended in both sets (7-5, 7-5) while seconds sophomore Brady Chan and first year Kalya Radojovic won it in a second set tie breaker (6-1, 7-6 (7-2)).

“The benefit of tight matches is they allow us to grow and be more accustomed to handling pressure situations. The boys responded exceptionally well, pulling out tight sets and tiebreakers in each match,” said Benson, who has managed the squad out of the first round for the past three seasons.

Belmont’s Soyam Pokharel battled fellow junior Nick Napoli as well as his body in a marathon match that went deep into the third set. With the match in a third set tiebreaker, Pokharel cramped up with him leading 8-5. After a five minute medical time out, Napoli came storming back to tie the match at 8-8. Each player fought off numerous match points with Pokharel finally eking out a 12-10 victory.

Belmont is now in a wait and see position as St. John’s has yet to play Chelmsford so that a day can be scheduled.

“I know most of their players and they have a deep squad,” said Olson. “They have pretty consistently good players, top to bottom. I can’t predict how my match is gonna go but I do know they will be one of the toughest teams we will play. Definitely one of the hardest games.”

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