Holliston Boys’ Tennis Advances to MIAA Tournament

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Holliston High Boys’ tennis saw just enough wins to squeak into tourney play this year after a long hiatus. The continually sharpening team is encouraged at prospects for next year.
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

The year was 2012; that was the last time that the Holliston boy’s tennis team advanced into the MIAA tournament. Now, seven years later, the Panther’s male racketeers have finally qualified to take part in the Division 2 South tournament. Although Holliston barely got in with a 7-7 record, earning themselves a 15 seed, the Panthers are back in the hunt once again, especially after only securing three victories last season.
“It feels really good to get back into the tournament,” Holliston Coach Dan Giammalvo said. “We do not consider ourselves an elite team by any means, but we do have a chance a winning a round.”
Throughout the season, Holliston has gotten victories from all over the court. Leading the way for the Panthers is junior first singles player Ahdu Ashokkumar, who is playing in his second year at the top.
“He is one of our better players and plays USTA year-round,” the coach said. “He has a really heavy top spin on his ball, especially his forehand and goes out does his job and consistently wins. He’s been a machine for us at first singles.”
In addition to Ashokkumar, junior captain Thomas Sykes has been finding his game at third singles for the Panthers enroute to the tournament. According to Giammalvo, Sykes has only been playing competitively for two or three years now, but has gained a lot of experience over that time and should be a really key asset to the squad come next spring.
Rounding out the singles players is freshman Alex Cohen, who has been a pleasant surprise on the courts. Thus far, the first-year varsity athlete has only lost three matches and has helped solidify the team.
“He’s a steady and strong tennis player with a good head on his shoulders,” Giammalvo said. “He stays even keeled at all times and fights to the end. It’s not always easy for him going up against juniors and seniors as a freshman, but he rarely is intimidated.”
On the doubles circuit, the Panthers have looked to senior captain Dylan Potemri and junior Nikko Alwani to provide the spark in the first match. The duo were put on the court for the first time together last year and had some trouble in the early goings During the off season they worked extremely hard on improving game and by the time this year opened they were ready and much improved. Their time together really showed the coaching staff that they were serious and were a formidable duo for the Panthers this spring.
While Potemri and Alwani held down the first doubles team, second doubles went through a rotation throughout the year, but it was ultimately senior captain Will Flannigan and senior Connor Cumming who saw the most action.
Despite earning their first trip to the tournament in some years, Holliston was not able to secure a first-round win. The Panthers unfortunately drew Duxbury, the number two seed in the tournament, and fell 5-0 ending their season earlier than they wanted to. However, getting back into the post-season gave the squad the experience of playing on the big stage. They should be ready come next year to take it further.
“We have all three of our singles players coming back in addition to a quarter of our doubles teams,” the Holliston Coach said. “There are spaces that will need to be filled, but we have a group of eager athletes to take those positions over.”
After finally getting back to the tournament, Giammalvo, himself, is very excited about the future of Panther tennis.
“I think I’m more excited about what next year brings,” he said. “It’s wonderful to finally make the tournament again, but next year we’ll be much better and now we have the experience of tournament play.”