'We won the matches we needed to win." - Portsmouth boys tennis advances in D2 tournament

·3 min read
Portsmouth's Ben Welsh win at No. 5 singles secured Tuesday's 5-4 win over Goffstown in a Division II boys tennis preliminary round contest.
Portsmouth's Ben Welsh win at No. 5 singles secured Tuesday's 5-4 win over Goffstown in a Division II boys tennis preliminary round contest.

PORTSMOUTH -- For the third time this season, the Portsmouth High School boys tennis team will face undefeated Oyster River.

But, this time, it will be in a win-or-go-home situation, and the Clippers hope this match will go better than the previous two.

The ninth-seeded Clippers advanced to Thursday's Division II quarterfinal against the top-seeded Bobcats thanks to Tuesday's 5-4 preliminary round win over No. 9 Goffstown.

Oyster River (14-0) beat Portsmouth twice in the regular season, 6-3 and 7-2. Thursday's match is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Durham.

Thursday's winner will play either No. 5 Coe-Brown (9-5) and No 4 Windham (9-5) in the semifinals.

"(Oyster River) has a lot of depth," Portsmouth head coach Anthony Sillita said. "I know where our points should come from, and I know where we have some work to do. We're familiar with each other and they have a great team."

In Tuesday's tournament opener, Portsmouth's Raphael Hey Tenne won his match at No. 2 singles, 9-7.

Josh White (No. 4, 8-3), Ben Welsh (No. 5, 8-5) and Aidan Holt (No. 6, 8-0) all won their respective matches against Goffstown.

"(The win) felt good, I'm glad we're finally in the playoffs," Welsh said. "We just came out and handled business."

Goffstow, which lost to Portsmouth, 5-4 in the regular season, forfeited two matches due to an illness and an injury.

Welsh's win at No. 5 singles sealed the match and sent the Clippers into the quarterfinals. Welsh lost his singles match in the regular season meeting with Goffstown.

"I wasn't too happy about (that), and I knew what I did wrong," Welsh said. "I'm sure everybody else felt that way, they knew what they did wrong so they knew how to correct that and it paid off."

Sillita said Welsh's did a "great job."

"He's been playing well all year," Sillita said.

Portsmouth's Andrew Shilman lost his match at No. 1 singles.

"The lower half of the ladder really pulled their weight," Shilman said. "We won the matches we needed to win."

Oyster River received the lone first-round bye.

"I've had many conversations with other teams in the state and their coaches, and we look at Oyster River as having 2's and 3's, and a couple 4's," Sillita said. "There are no 6's on that team. (Oyster River) is a well balanced team, and it's going to be a tough match."

Welsh knows it will take a valiant effort to advance.

"(Oyster River) has a very deep team, No. 1 through 6 are all good," Welsh said. "We're just going to have to play our best. They are the No. 1 seed, obviously, they haven't lost.

"We know they're good," Welsh continued. "We're probably going to be playing people who we've played before. We just have to play our best."

Shilman is looking forward to playing Oyster River and said it's all about effort.

"We just have to play harder (than in the regular season), that's it," he said. "They're a good team."

Sillita said the determining factor will come down to the doubles matches, and a few wins out of its lower half of its lineup.

"It's really going to come down to the middle of the lineup, the No. 3, 4, 5 and 6; that's where (Oyster River's) strength lies, so it'll be a tough day."

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Portsmouth beats Goffstown in NHIAA Division II boys tennis preliminary round