It’s been a little rocky in the early going, but the Pilgrim boys’ tennis team is expecting improvement across the board as the season goes on.
In fact, even with 7-0 losses to Cranston West and Prout to open the year, the Pats have already seen a spike in their level of play from last season to now.
It hasn’t translated into victories just yet, but head coach Peter Fitzpatrick is hoping its only a matter of time before Pilgrim gets in the win column for the first time since the 2010 season.
Last year, the Pats finished at 0-15-1 in Division II.
“With experience on the team and the experience in the number of seniors and quick learners on the team, I’m very optimistic about having an improved win-loss record from last year,” Fitzpatrick said last Tuesday.
Pilgrim graduated only one player – Chris Gillis – off last year’s team, and the returners have shown the growth that traditionally comes from having a full year of experience, plus an offseason, to build on.
And while the wins will likely come, Fitzpatrick isn’t pressing. He’s measuring his team’s success in a number of ways, all of which are just based on being better each and every time out.
“Just amongst ourselves, I’ve seen tremendous improvement from last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “The competition varies a lot in this division, so I will study our scores from last year to measure our progress. It’s not always wins and losses – it can be games and points.”
Returning atop the Pats’ lineup is senior Ian Giuttari, who played No. 1 singles last season as well.
He’ll set the tone for the rest of the team.
“He’s a veteran on the team, one of the captains,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s been playing No. 1 for us for a while.”
In the No. 2 spot, junior captain Thomas Greenberg is handling the duties. Greenberg was a singles player a year ago.
Making his debut as a singles player is senior Jacob Anderson, who is in his third year with the team. In the past, Anderson has served a doubles player.
“He’s made tremendous improvement, making the singles lineup,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s really impressed me in the preseason by the skills that he’s picked up in the offseason.”
The fourth player on the singles ladder is sophomore Sam Adamo, who has also made the transition from doubles to singles.
On the doubles side, senior captain Dan Gillis is leading the way, and Fitzpatrick is expecting him to play some singles as well.
Partnering with Gillis will be senior Matt Morris. Morris has missed the team’s first two matches, however, and senior Matt Johnson has stepped in to fill the void.
Luckily for Fitzpatrick, a lot of the pieces around that part of the lineup are relatively interchangeable.
“There’s a lot of close ability right around that three, four, five, six spot,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s a lot of flexibility.”
The No. 2 doubles team is made up of seniors Chris Minett and Mike Holton. Those two didn’t play against Cranston West, but they did make their season debut against Prout. They also played together for most of last season.
“They both started last year, and they’ve made tremendous improvements,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’re a perfect example that you can teach yourself a lot of things just by playing nearly every day of the summer.”
Pilgrim’s third doubles team consists of juniors Jahdeem Foster and Jack Howland. Foster is in his first year with the team, while Howland is in his second season.
It’s the most inexperienced part of the Pats’ lineup, but Fitzpatrick is confident that with some time, Foster and Howland can turn into a formidable pairing.
“I’d like to keep them together and see how they can grow throughout the season,” Fitzpatrick said.
The team also has Johnson, who will regularly be filling in where needed, junior transfer student Javier Bernal and sophomore Andrew Allen to help carry the load.
The way it all shakes out, playing in a tough division, the Pats may not finish near the top, but they’re planning on getting as much out of their veteran-laden team as they can right now.
It won’t be easy, but the team’s steady improvement is an indication of how far it has come and how far it can go if it continues.
“We’ll just take it one point at a time, one match at a time and we’ll try to measure our progress,” Fitzpatrick said. “I am looking forward to a lot of progress and a lot of improvement.”
The Pats will continue their season today with their third match of the year. They’ll take on defending D-II champion East Greenwich at home at 3 p.m.
“We get to see how far we’ve come,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re measuring our progress in many ways besides wins and losses. We had a tough season last season, so I’d like to see improvement from there.”