Tewksbury Memorial High School Freshman Alek Cranston

Tewksbury Memorial High School Freshman Alek Cranston battles from the No. 1 singles position during an earlier season home match.     (photo by Jim Vaiknoras).

TEWKSBURY — They did it!

Last Friday, the incredible journey continued for the Tewksbury Memorial High School boys' tennis team. Needing a win in their final match of the regular season, the Redmen topped Billerica, 4-1, to put the team's record at 8-7 and more importantly give the program its first winning season and its first state tournament berth in program history.

"We did it," said a very excited head coach Rick Keene. "It came right down to the last match, but the boys are now locked in a spot in the (Division 2 North sectional tournament). We were fired up for our match against Billerica, all five lines came out firing this afternoon."

In singles play, freshman Alek Cranston was defeated at the No. 1 spot by scores of 7-5 and 6-2. After that, it was all Tewksbury as Daryl Quek won at second singles, 6-3 and 6-0, Aklilu Aron also won in straight sets, 6-2 and 6-0.

Then in doubles play, Derek Wallace and Ben Froment won in straight sets, 6-1 and 6-1, while Brandon Pham and Patrick Dunn also came away with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

"Aklilu was the first to win his match followed right behind was Daryl paving the way for the rest of the team," said Keene. "We knew we only needed one more win to lock the victory and push us into the state playoffs. Our players all made our way over to the doubles matches where Ben Froment and Derek Wallace were only a few points away from wining the match. They put together two great sets. Derek Wallace closed it out with a beautiful wide out serve for and ace sealing the victory for us."

That ace officially put Tewksbury into the sectional tournament for what's believed to be the first time in school history, all coming in the team's third season as a varsity team after the program has been cut twice, once in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.

"It’s amazing to see just how far this team has come over the last few years," said Keene. "It’s a testament to all their hard work and perseverance starting out as a JV team only three short years ago. I’ve been honored and privileged to be a part of their journey. We are all very excited and focusing on the playoffs looking to put together a strong showing."

The seedings will be announced on Thursday with play expected to begin either Sunday or Monday. It would appear that last year's sectional champion Winchester would be one of the favorites this year with the likes of Reading, Belmont, Wayland and North Andover among the elite.

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