The boys’ tennis team had 14 new players this season.
With 10 freshmen and a total of 14 new players, there were some growing pains for the Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ tennis team, which finished the season 3-13. But, there was also a ton of progress.
“I definitely would call this season a success due to the growth and depth we were able to gain within the team,” said second-year head coach Alyssa Hayes.
Hayes said learning to work together was the most obvious area of growth.
“We had a good nine guys that would swap in and out in varsity matches which started to teach them to be flexible in doubles, not always knowing which partner they would be playing with,” she said.
Sitting at 1-12 entering the final week of the season, the Panthers flexed that growth with back-to-back wins over Pembroke (4-1) and Spellman (5-0).
“It was definitely a highpoint and included a team trip to DQ (Dairy Queen),” Hayes said.
Junior captain Brian Fox was the Panthers’ lone Patriot League All-Star, after leading the club with five wins while playing against the best the opposition had to offer in No. 1 singles.
“Brian is an all-around leader,” Hayes said. “He takes charge in anything I ask of him. Even without asking, he is the first to communicate with the team, make sure they’re all ready, show up early to practice, he really gets the job done. It is clear Brian is also a mentor to some of the younger players. He is going to lead the team to great things.”
In addition to Fox, there were many other key contributors for W-H this spring.
“We had a lot of new guys which was great because I saw a lot of growth,” Hayes explained. “Cam Lindsay came out for the team as a sophomore and not only grew in his tennis playing but ended up becoming a captain, alongside Brian, for next season. Seniors Griffin Pulkinen and Jared Badger came out for the team as seniors and worked their way into first and second doubles spots.”
It wasn’t just the new guys showing improvements, either.
“[Senior] Matt Hickey, who was on the team for four years, showed insane growth this season moving to second singles,” Hayes said. “He played like a back.”
Hayes said she was surprisingly impressed with the progress of Aidan Hickey, Dan McDevitt and Will Mulligan, and senior Nolan Smith, all of whom fought their way into varsity spots.
Hayes said winning the Patriot League’s Keenan Division sportsmanship award was the highlight of the year for her.
“Wins are nice, of course every coach hopes for them,” she said. “At the end of the day, seeing these talented athletes grow into respectful and graceful young adults surpasses it all.”
Hayes said she hopes to see the kids hit the courts in the offseason.
“My hope is that the players will play summer tennis,” she said. “Keeping consistent play is important.”