David Cheever saw the excitement the island showed when teams such as the varsity volleyball team and boys hockey team went on long, successful playoff runs. He admired that and appreciated the success each of those teams achieved. He sees what the boys and girls lacrosse teams are doing as they remain alive in their state tournaments, and he is proud to say that his team is enjoying similar success following a 3-2 win over #10 Hopedale on Wednesday to advance to the Div. 4 state quarterfinals.
“That was crazy,” Cheever said of his team's win. “I was away but got to watch the boys hockey game when they won on their home ice and the kids went crazy in the stands and the hockey players were crashing into the boards. Then I was at a volleyball match when that team won this year and the kids went crazy. And now we had one on the tennis courts. It has just been a great year for Nantucket sports. It is just so amazing and so much fun for the kids. These are memories that will last forever for these kids.”
Following the Whalers Round of 32 victory over Seekonk last week, Cheever said that in order for his team to continue advancing through the state tournament they were going to need their doubles pairing to continue producing positive results.
The Whalers got those results on Wednesday and that is what ultimately led them to their 3-2 win. Henry Kathawala and Hunter Gross made up Nantucket’s first pairing while Hawkin Edwardes and Aidan Sullivan, who clinched the match for Nantucket, represented their second pairing.
Kathawala and Gross won their match in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. That duo has been strong ever since Kathawala made the move to doubles midway through the season.
“Those two played phenomenal,” Cheever said. “Henry is playing with so much confidence and just going at kids. They showed some great teamwork and sportsmanship. They’ve really gelled into a very solid doubles team.”
Edwardes and Sullivan lost the first set 6-7, but showed some impressive mental toughness to rally in set two and secure a 6-4 win that didn’t come easy. In set three, they won 6-2 and were the final match to finish.
“Everyone is watching that match at this point with Aidan serving. It was 3-2 in that third set. I told Aidan just to exhale and get the serve in. This is a momentum point. He has a great serve and then Hawkin at net is just going to jump on anything and smash it down somebody’s throat. Sure enough, they won and you could just feel the momentum shift. I thought that match was over at 4-2 even though it ended 6-2. That was a big moment.”
As for the singles, third single Nik Krastev was the lone winner. He won his match in straight sets but had to earn every point. The first set was won 7-6 while the second set was won 6-4.
“Nik had the mental aspect and I thought that would never come out of my mouth,” Cheever said laughing while discussing Krastev’s strong play on Wednesday. “Nik was down 5-1 in that first set and he just battled back. He stomped the guy in the second set and overall, just played amazing. He was getting to balls where the point seemed to be over but he got it back in play. He just played an amazing, amazing match.”
While first single Quinn Keating was unable to win his match (lost in straight sets 4-6, 4-6), Cheever raved about his performance.
“Quinn was going up against this big, huge kid who has had a million lessons and Quinn was just amazing,” Cheever said. “Quinn kept adjusting his game and played a super match. He put everything out there and had a great match."
Boyan Kalpazanov, the Whaler’s second single, lost his match in straight sets 1-6, 2-6.
“Boyan learned that you can have the best strokes on the court and some kid can be on the other side who just figures out how to beat you somehow – somebody unorthodox. That was a learning experience for Boyan because he has to learn the mental aspect of the game.”
The Whalers will now attempt to make it to the state semifinals when they travel to Cohasset to take on the #2 Skippers on Friday, June 9 at 4 p.m.