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Vana completes doubleheader sweep

Former champion reaches quarters

Joe Keller (right) of Oyster Harbors shakes hands with Brendon Ray on the 15th green after winning, 5 and 3. Joe Keller (right) of Oyster Harbors shakes hands with Brendon Ray on the 15th green after winning, 5 and 3. (JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF)

CONCORD -- Frank Vana Jr. said he didn't realize until halfway through his second match that both of his competitors were from Indian Ridge Golf Club in Andover.

They both met the same fate yesterday as Vana beat John Gilmartin, 3 and 1, in the morning match and dispatched Colin Brennan, 7 and 6, in the afternoon match to advance to the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship at Concord Country Club.

The 44-year-old Vana, a resident of Boylston who plays out of Marlborough Country Club, ended his first match with a flourish, sinking a 40-foot putt for eagle on the 17th hole. Gilmartin struggled with his putting. Brennan had a tough day all-around.

"For the most part today, I really wasn't in any trouble which was good," said Vana. "I drove it pretty good. I was pretty much in the fairway. I don't know how many greens I hit but I didn't miss many greens at all. I was above the hole too many times today, which makes you have to be a little defensive. I hit it close to the pin, I was just on the wrong side a few times. I was making a lot of pars today but pars were good enough in several of these circumstances."

Vana, who won this event in 2004 and 2005, said it was the first time he'd played against 18-year-old Brennan, who beat Brian Baker of LeBaron Hills, 2 and 1, in his first match. Brennan was a Globe All-Scholastic Division 1 Player of the Year for Andover in golf last fall and is headed to Rollins College.

"I know he's a good young player and he's going to play in college, like they all are," said Vana. "He struggled a little bit today. We've all been there. There's no doubt about it, we definitely have, so I'm sure he's disappointed. But he's a nice kid and he looks like he's probably got a lot of game. There's a lot of good stuff ahead for him I'm sure."

In May, Brennan, along with Evan Harmeling of Andover Country Club, captured the 27th Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship at Mount Pleasant Country Club, becoming the youngest tandem to do so.

Yesterday's conditions were not easy. It was humid and, once the cloud cover lifted, blisteringly hot. Vana said despite that, he wasn't thinking about closing out Brennan as early as he could.

"I really was just trying to do my thing," said Vana. "At one point, I wasn't even sure how much up I was. He was maybe missing some greens and I'd have 5- and 8-footers for par so from that standpoint, it made it easier for me."

Adam Rainaud of The Ledges Golf Club, who was the co-medalist with Kevin Velardo of the Country Club of Billerica, won the first three holes of his opening match against John McNeill of the Boston Amateur Golf Society but McNeill fought back. The two were all square after 17, but McNeill eliminated Rainaud on 18.

McNeill also won his second match, beating Tom Bagley of Concord Country Club, 3 and 2.

Joe Keller of Oyster Harbors eliminated Jim Forsgard of South Shore Country Club, 3 and 2, in the morning and advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Brendon Ray of Walpole Country Club, 5 and 3, in the afternoon.

Todd Ezold of Hickory Ridge edged Gary Palmer of Segregansett, 2 and 1, in the morning, and beat Brian Cawley of Colonial, 3 and 2, in the afternoon to advance to the final eight.

Velardo knocked off Jon Lawler of Bass Rocks, 5 and 4, in his first match but Burgess Houston of Maplegate prevailed over Velardo in 19 holes in the afternoon. Houston had edged Jack Kearney of Elmcrest, 3 and 1.

Bill Drohen of Bradford, who had the low round (69) on the first day of qualifying, managed to get by Shawn Scott of Indian Ridge, 2-1, in his first match but lost to John Hogan of Ferncroft when Hogan birdied 17 for a 1-up win. In the morning, Hogan beat Kevin Foley of Furnace Brook, 7 and 6.

Carter Fasick of Indian Meadows, who opened with a win over Kevin Quinn of Charles River, was eliminated by Dan Ladd of Weston, 2 and 1. Weston had beaten Ken Gys of Mount Pleasant Golf Club, 4 and 3, in his first match.

Steve Tasho of Thorny Lea, who won this tournament in 1981 and 1985, outlasted high-schooler Antonio Grillo in 19 holes in the first match, but was knocked out by A.J. Oleksak of Crestview in the second, 2 and 1. Oleksak will be a senior at the University of Hartford this fall.