After Walpole Boys Tennis did not qualify for the State Tournament last season for the first time in 14 years, this year’s team looks to rebound from its 1-3 start and return to the postseason. Led by senior captain Anish Gali as the top singles player and freshmen Varun Mandulapalli (2nd singles) and Danny Colbert (3rd singles), the team consists of a variety of personnel in regard to age and experience.
“We have been playing some really high caliber teams, but they have all been extremely close matches,” said Gali. “Overall I’m excited for this year’s outcome and eager to see the upsets we make this year.”
Currently, the freshmen have a 5-3 record. Mandulapalli has won all of his matches except one to a Natick player. Colbert has split his matches, 2-2. Throughout their matches, both Mandulapalli and Colbert have played mostly upperclassmen, as Mandulapalli played 3 seniors and Colbert has played 2 juniors.
“Playing against older kids is a different kind of experience which is cool, because we are much younger than them but still get to compete with them,” said Madulapalli.
Although this is both Madulapalli and Colbert’s first year playing high school tennis, the game is certainly not new to them. Prior to high school, Madulapalli played competitively in different tournaments. In October of 2016, the United States Tennis Association ranked Madulapalli 86th out of 522 youth players New England region. Colbert never competed at the club level; however, he has been playing in his leisure time for about 6 years.
“I’ve played tennis since I was 9 or so, but this is my first time [playing] competitively,” said Colbert. “I really like how high school tennis is an individual sport and a team sport at the same time.”
Gali, the team’s number 1 singles player, currently has a record of 1-2 with his one victory being over a strong Catholic Memorial opponent in a tight competition.
Additionally, seniors Pat Donovan and Sean Lynch have been making solid contributions for the team in doubles play. Donovan is most prominently known for being the captain of Walpole High School’s historic hockey season this year. He decided to join the tennis team this spring, with aspirations of translating his success from the ice to the pavement.
“It was easy to go from hockey to tennis because the things I really liked about hockey are still there in tennis, like the competitiveness and being apart of a team” said Donovan. “While tennis is less intense [than hockey], it’s still competitive because this team has a commitment to win.”
While it is Donovan’s first season, Lynch has four years of high school experience on the tennis court. With their mix of experienced players, the Rebels look to rebound from their 1-3 start and qualify again for the postseason.
“We have a lot of potential this year,” said Lynch. “We just got to do better in game situations.”