It may be another tough season for the Pilgrim boys’ tennis team. The Pats are still playing in a tough Division II, they only have six players on their roster and the school had to scramble to find a coach for them.
Despite all that, the Pats would much rather be on the court than not.
“Nobody wanted to cancel the season because we’ve got kids who want to play and two seniors who want to play,” said new coach Gary Gorman.
That means the Pats are going to make it work, regardless of the challenges that await.
“To be honest, I just want them to go out and have fun, try to be consistent and enjoy the competition,” Gorman said.
Gorman is the head girls’ tennis coach at Toll Gate and has been an assistant for several years with the state champion South Kingstown boys’ team. He teaches at Pilgrim and stepped in at the last minute when the program needed somebody.
He inherits a team that will once again face a difficult slate. After a run of solid seasons in Division III, the Pats moved to Division II in 2011 as part of an overhaul of the RIIL tennis landscape. It’s been a struggle at the higher level – Pilgrim went winless in 2011 and 3-13 last year. Another round of realignment happened in the off-season, but it didn’t change anything for the Pats, who remain in D-II.
“We should be in Division III,” Gorman said, noting the gap in tennis experience between the two leagues.
Numbers are the other challenge. With six players, the Pats can only trot out a singles ladder and one doubles team.
“We’re short two doubles teams,” Gorman said. “We have six players and we’re supposed to have 10. We try recruiting, we ask kids during P.E. classes, we make announcements. It is what it is.”
The Pats will try to make the best of it.
Leading the way are seniors Tom Greenberg and Jack Howland, both of whom have been contributors in the past. Greenberg has been a solid singles player for several years, and he played in the second slot last year. As the only player on the team with a background in the sport outside of school, he’s jumping to No. 1 singles this year. Greenberg has won two of his three matches thus far.
Junior Joseph Chehy is playing No. 2 singles, and Howland is in the third spot. Freshman Jacob Smith and sophomore Peter Lemoi are both seeing time at No. 4 singles. Juniors Rich Fredericks and freshman Ryan Boisse are playing No. 1 doubles.
The team is hoping it can find at least one more player in the near future, so that it can add a doubles team.
As far as what the Pats can do on the court, it’s bound to be tough sledding in D-II, especially for the players without experience.
“It’s starting from scratch, and that’s not easy,” Gorman said. “Some of them didn’t know how to keep score.”
As a result, the focus will be on the basics and on playing consistent tennis.
“Being consistent – keeping the ball in play,” he said. “A lot of these kids don’t have fundamentals and they’re playing kids who have had lessons before. They have to do what they can.”
The Pats are 0-3 thus far, with Greenberg owning their only individual victories. They’ll be back in action today when they visit Prout at 3:30 p.m.