Wellesley's Gordon Peters may have already graduated from high school, but he's certainly not done being tested.
Peters passed his latest test with flying colors, capturing the game-winning point with new first doubles partner Mike Pratt in the Red Raiders 4-1 State semifinal win over North champion Lexington Monday at Newton South.
Peters next test will come later this week as Wellesley (25-0) advances to face Central Mass. champion St. John's of Shrewsbury in the State championship match at 3:30 Thursday, June 17, at Shrewsbury High School.
Win or lose on Thursday, Peters will still have at least one more test to take however before he can put away his Raider tennis jersey, as he and junior Alex Robertson will try to keep Peters' hopes for back-to-back state doubles titles alive when the tandem takes on West champions Jeremy Barr and Steven Brunner of Longmeadow in a state individual doubles tournament semifinal at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 19, on Clark University's Corash Tennis Courts.
"There is no way I'd rather finish my high school career," said Peters.
After winning the state individual doubles tournament last year with senior Mitchell Henry, Peters and Robertson have formed a nearly unbeatable pair for most of the season, marching all the way to Saturday's state double semifinal but after scouting Lexington's hard-fought victory over the favored Concord-Carlisle last Friday Raider coach Mike Sabin opted to split his top singles pair to play Robertson at third singles.
"I always try to focus first on the mental side of it because that is the side you can control and keep consistent," said Peters, following his and Pratt's 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 win over Lexington senior Andrew Herrera and junior Preston Wu. "The tennis might change between two guys but how you keep mentally strong and intense and focused and the way you play the points sure doesn't."
Sabin's strategy paid big dividends as Robertson prevailed over Lexington senior Jeremy Weiser 6-0, 7-5 at third singles to score another crucial point for the team.
"I talked to the guys yesterday and they thought if we went with putting Alex third, because he is our third best player, it would be best," said Sabin. "If he played third singles all year, he'd win all his matches really easily. He's usually better used a first doubles. Today was a day where he was better used at third singles. He really helped us a lot."
Seniors David Mykrantz and Jeff Baldwin gave the Raider their customary sweep of the doubles matches, bouncing back after dropping the opening set to win 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 over Lexington senior Kyung Jeon and freshman Dan Meffa.
Junior Chris Cua won the best match of the day, recovering from a first set loss to beat Mark Pronchick 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 at second singles.
After shocking defending state singles champion Alex Steinroder of Concord-Carlisle last Friday, Lexington senior Cam Gorbani ended his high school tennis career with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Wellesley junior Ilya Levin at top singles.
Wellesley's win avenged a loss to Concord-Carlisle in last year's State semis, and Sabin feels experience that may have helped the Raiders this time around.
"I think the experience last year really helped us a little bit," said Sabin. "Last year at this time, when we lost to Concord, the juniors that were going to step up to be seniors and fill some of the roles of guys who graduated, they put a lot of work in and it was because of them that we pulled it out today, really."