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Three boys' tennis champions to be crowned today

Three boys' tennis teams will be crowned in greater Manchester today.

Three-time defending state champion and top seed Bedford (16-0) will be searching for its first Division I title against third-ranked Exeter (14-2) at 4 p.m. at Manchester West. Bedford, competing in its first Division I season, won the Class I title in 2010 and the Division II titles in 2011 and 2012.

In the Division II championship at Bedford High at 4 p.m., top-ranked Portsmouth (16-0) will battle second-ranked Hanover (16-0).

Derryfield School of Manchester will host the Division III final pitting top-ranked Gilford (15-0) against second-ranked Bow (14-1) at 4 p.m.

Division I

Bedford, under head coach Shawna Morley, will be led by No. 1 singles player McKinley Grimes, Jim Delahunty and Matt Weeks, who each have a chance to close out their careers with four state team titles. Morley said the same is true for non-starters Alex Standard, Dean Drukker and Jake Leberman, who have been with the program for four seasons.

The other starters for Bedford are Dan Soucy, Zach Anderson and Ian Horne.

Morley said moving up to play Division I was everything she expected this season. "Concord, Exeter, Londonderry, Keene, Timberlane and Bedford were all tough teams," said Morley. "All six teams were capable of qualifying for the finals this year. Our team stayed focused and I thought we played consistently well."

Exeter, which has finished runner-up the last three straight seasons after winning the title in 2009, will be led by Corey Guen, Ryan Posternak, Chris Lietz, Chip McNaughton, Ty Cloyd and Tyler Russ.

"Exeter has no weaknesses," said Morley. "They have depth and balance and we're going to have to play well."

Exeter defeated host Concord 7-2 in the semifinals on Sunday.

Division II

It's worth noting in Division II that Hanover has won 14 of its 16 matches this season by 9-0 scores. The other two were by 8-1 margins.

"We knew coming into the season we were going to be good," said Hanover head coach Mark Lewis. "For us, it begins in practice. We challenge each other and that's where guys battle for spots in the lineup. We're a deep team and we don't look to one person to set the tone. It's the entire team which sets the tone."

In Hanover's 9-0 semifinal win against Lebanon, No. 2 player Christian Mueller and No. 6 Sandy Yu were missing at the start of the match because of other school commitments. Lewis inserted Graham Dickson and Richard Qiu in the lineup and the team didn't miss a beat.

Freshman standout Kotaro Horiuchi, who is undefeated, has played consistently well at the No. 1 position all season. He'll be a contender for the individual state title in early June. Brendan Barth, Henry Pletcher and Jackson Greenpan round out the talented lineup for the Marauders.

Portsmouth will counter with Iani Stamenov, Bobby Rizkalla, Pat Duplessis, Eric Egeland, Chris Rossi and Ryan Bergeron.

"We didn't play Portsmouth during the regular season, but we know several of their players from the USTA tournaments," said Lewis. "They know how to win and we're expecting a tough match."

Division III

Head coach Terry Wilson of Gilford went through a stretch of finishing runner-up four times before his program broke through to win the state title in 2010 (Class M-S) and 2011 (Division III). Now along comes Bow, which has finished runnerup the last two seasons.

"We know Bow will enter the match a hungry team," said Wilson. "But we're just as hungry, too. We're a confident team and I've always felt that the team which executes the best will turn out to be the winner." Gilford won a hard-fought 5-4 match in Bow on May 7. "We were both 10-0 at the time and that was as close of a tournament atmosphere you can experience during the regular season. It was certainly a good experience for our team."

Gilford will be led by Andrew Caulfield, Matt Saulnier, Alex Simoneau, Keaton Quigley, Erick Berghahn and Nolin Dwyer.

Saulnier and Simoneau, who serve as captains, are the only returning players back from the recent championship seasons. Gilford lost to Profile in the semifinals last season.

"Matt and Alex have been solid leaders and as a team I think we've improved on our net play especially in doubles' play," said Wilson, now in his 15th season at the helm. Since 1990, Gilford has qualified for the state finals 14 times, winning six state titles and seven runner-up crowns.

Bow will be looking for its first title since 2002 behind Zack Zbehlik, Evan Maccani, Arun Luckoor, Harrison Beck, Tim Bradley and Ben Maurer.

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