From the first time he saw Matt Paradis compete, it was clear to Manchester High School Central golf coach Matt Tafe that he had a special player.
"I've been coaching for 10 seasons, and Matt is definitely the best player I've coached," said Tafe. "In his very first high school match, at Green Meadow (in Hudson), he won medalist. In his second match, at Souhegan Woods (in Amherst), he won medalist again. It just blew my mind away."
Today, as a Central senior who plays out of Derryfield Country Club, Paradis has established a reputation for being a title contender at any tournament in which he competes.
He has finished runner-up the last two seasons in the NHIAA tournament to current Texas Christian University freshman Chelso Barrett of Surry, who won New Hampshire Union Leader Athlete of the Month honors for August after reaching the round of 16 in the U.S. Amateur and winning the New Hampshire Golf Association Stroke Play Championship that month.
Paradis had a pretty good summer himself.
In June, he reached the final of NHGA Junior Championship before falling to Tom Hixon of Rye in an 18-hole match play championship flight battle. On Labor Day Weekend, he won the three-round Manchester Men's City Golf Championship, topping runner-up Jake Nutter of Bedford by seven strokes.
"What impressed me is, Matt shot under par each day, at Derryfield (1-under 69), Intervale (1-under 71) and Manchester (4-under 68)," said Tafe, who labeled Paradis a "calm, cool and collected" golfer.
"Golf is an emotional sport, but you rarely see any emotion from Matt," Tafe said. "If you show up in the middle of one of his matches, you can't tell if Matt is winning or losing."
Paradis called the city championship the "highlight of my career so far" and said his uncle Bob Vigneault helped him maintain the kind of even keel Tafe described.
"I can't take all the credit. My uncle kept me pretty straight during that tournament," Paradis said. "He wouldn't let me get high or low."
Tafe noted that few high school students have won the Manchester city title, Nutter among them.
"It's pretty cool," said Paradis. "I know Jake won it when he was a junior in high school. The competition in the city tournament is great. You've got many guys who have been playing 20 years, some even 30 years and a few who are former club champions. If you win the city title, you've earned it against some of the best golfers."
Paradis said his grandparents Don and Barbara Vigneault got him interested in golf at an early age and credited his parents, Nanette and Dan, for supporting his participation in the sport.
His immediate goal, he said, is to help Central win the NHIAA championship, but he also wants to end his high school career with an individual title.
He doesn't know yet if he'll continue playing at the college level next season.
"Other than Southern New Hampshire University, I haven't heard much from other schools," he said. "If I don't get an offer I like, I plan on becoming a firefighter someday."
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FOR THE THIRD straight season Dick Lutsk of Manchester will be the radio voice of Dartmouth College.
Big Green fans can tune in to Hanover's WFRD 99.3 FM today at 6 p.m. for Dartmouth's season-opener against Butler in Indianapolis. Lutsk will be working alongside former Big Green captain Wayne Young, who helped lead Dartmouth to the 1972 Ivy league title.
A marketing specialist for Manchester Radio Group, Lutsk has worn many hats over his distinguished broadcasting career. In addition to broadcasting Dartmouth football, he's the radio voice of Holy Cross basketball and hockey. He also was in the booth to call about a dozen New Hampshire Fisher Cats games each of the past two seasons.
Elsewhere in Manchester, Lutsk previously did play-by-play on radio for the Manchester Wolves of the now-defunct arenafootball2 from 2004-09), served as a radio analyst for the Manchester Monarchs (2002-04). From 1980 to 1992, he worked for the University of New Hampshire Sports Network covering football, basketball and hockey games as a play-by-play and color analyst.
Other past gigs included hosting Red Sox pre- and post-game shows, and Boston College football, basketball and hockey games.
"City Sports" is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.