copyright the Chronicle 4-10-2013
by Richard Creaser
NEWPORT — The success of the 2013 boys varsity tennis team will rest heavily on the shoulders of the team’s top five singles players, Coach Gary Atchinson said. In order for the team to win a meet it must win four out of the seven matches on the day. The meet consists of five singles matches and two doubles matches.
The Falcons lost three seniors and two other players during the off season, depleting the team substantially, Coach Atchinson said. Still, the team retained a solid nucleus of more experienced players coupled with an eager, if inexperienced, group of freshmen.
“We’ll be able to get the freshmen some experience in doubles matches and season them a little,” Coach Atchinson said.
Though the season is less than two weeks old, including pre-season conditioning, the team has already had its first meet. The Falcons traveled to Mount Mansfield but lost the meet 4-3.
“We won our one, two and three matches to start,” Coach Atchinson said. “Our freshmen got some good experience but we did lose both doubles matches.”
The early start to the season prevented Coach Atchinson from running play downs to establish player rankings. Traditionally the top five players will participate in the singles matches with players six and seven forming the first doubles team, seven and eight the second doubles team and any remaining players participating as part of an exhibition squad.
“Most players prefer to play singles so there’s usually pretty stiff competition for the top five spots,” Coach Atchinson said. ‘That’s the really great thing about coaching tennis — everything plays out on its own. The players play each other and determine their own rankings by how they perform.”
Though it is theoretically possible to fudge a team’s rankings in order to win more matches, it is not a problem that crops up with any regularity, Coach Atchinson said.
“It’s usually pretty obvious if one player is overmatched by another,” the coach said. “But I think, for the most part, everyone wants to put their best players against one another.”
There is no shame in being a lower ranked player, Coach Atchinson said. Players who feel that they have outplayed their current ranking can ask to compete against their teammates to prove the extent of their development and worthiness of a higher seeding. There is also something to be said for competing in a lower bracket if only from a win-loss perspective, the coach said.
“It’s not the end of the world if you lose in a higher pairing because the competition gets tougher and tougher the higher up you go,” Coach Atchinson said. “Likewise, you may actually have a better chance to win against the lower ranked players.”
As the players continued to sort out their internal rankings, Coach Atchinson gave his players a final piece of advice.
“This isn’t like other sports where you can run out the clock,” he said. “You gotta keep doing what you did to get you in the lead. That’s the only way you’re going to win matches.”
Contact Richard Creaser at [email protected]
Caption: NC boys tennis team