MDI Tennis Teams Toe the Line



BAR HARBOR — While the Mount Desert Island High School boys’ tennis team faces a rebuilding year, the girls’ team appears to be on the upswing and could manage a playoff berth if the ball bounces in their favor.

Mount Desert Island High School’s Jessica Swanson will be a dominant force on the Trojan squad this season. Here, she volleys with a player from Bangor High School on April 14 at MDI High School.— JEFF WALLS
Mount Desert Island High School’s Jessica Swanson will be a dominant force on the Trojan squad this season. Here, she volleys with a player from Bangor High School on April 14 at MDI High School.— JEFF WALLS

BAR HARBOR — While the Mount Desert Island High School boys’ tennis team faces a rebuilding year, the girls’ team appears to be on the upswing and could manage a playoff berth if the ball bounces in their favor.

“The girls could be strong. The boys are young again,” said MDI head tennis coach Ben Rowell. “We had several players that aren’t coming back so we are still kind of rebuilding the boys.”

Having a lot of young players may not bode well for this year, but in successive years, he hopes getting varsity experience for the young players will come to fruition with some title matches.

“I am going to have at least three freshmen playing most of the time. I have eight to 10 freshmen in the program so that is a good start to rebuilding the program,” Coach Rowell said. “There are some players in middle school too, so we are in good shape to start the process of rebuilding.”

In the top two spots for the boys, senior Ian Carbone and sophomore Garrett Lee will shoulder most of the burden. “Garrett Lee is going to have to step up and play some singles this year,” Coach Rowell said. “Ian Carbone will probably be our number-one.”

The boys are very excited to play and motivated to learn according to Coach Rowell.

“I have Andrew Dalton who will factor in a lot. He is a solid player and might even get some singles time. Sam Jacobson has some experience. Ian Sampson is another freshman that will see some playing time. He is a bit unorthodox but he is really aggressive and he loves to play,” said Coach Rowell. “Aaron Boucher is a lefty and he has shown signs of where that is going to help him a lot. Lefties are hard to play against. Once he picks up what he is supposed to be doing out there he is going to be tough to play. We are also going to rely on sophomore Daniel Hernandez and juniors Mike Dunleavey and Eliot Klaver a lot this year.”

According to Coach Rowell, the only people who should feel comfortable in their positions are Ian and Garrett. “Everything else is wide open. I have seen some great things from Eliot Klaver,” said Coach Rowell. “He has really come in motivated and wants to improve. He will start at singles but Andrew hasn’t challenged him yet.”

There will be a fair amount of shuffling to find the right combinations to fill out the rest of the team. “Mike Dunleavey has some good experience at doubles. Daniel Hernandez has got all of the skills in the world,” Coach Rowell said. “If he steps on the court and maintains a positive attitude he will be a force for us. I may end up pulling some guys up from JV but we will see what happens.”

Greg Dalton is the JV coach this year. “He has been a big help in recruiting some of these younger players,” Coach Rowell said. “And that is how the rebuilding starts.”

Girls’ Team

The girls’ team is sporting a lot of experience this season. “I think we are stronger than we were at this time last year. We had lots of experience last year for the girls. We had five strong girls with experience,” Coach Rowell said. “But this year all 10 of the girls are pretty strong and know what they are doing. Jessica Swanson and Grace Robbins will be playing some singles for me this year. Julia Christie, a sophomore will also probably be playing some singles. From there four through 10 are very strong for the doubles slots. We are pretty deep with the girls.”

The singles positions for the girls, while never completely set, are looking very firm at this point in the season.

“Grace has beaten Jessica in a challenge match so she will start out as number-one for now, but all three of them are pretty equal,” said Coach Rowell. “Jessica and Grace have shown a lot of leadership this year. They are my captains for the team. For Julia, biggest thing right now is that she is very athletic and it is in her blood. She needs to learn to play in matches. If she picks that up she is going to be tough to beat.”

A strong group follows the top three. “Mia Musetti and Hannah Worcester are my next top two girls,” Coach Rowell said. “They will see a lot of time at doubles and maybe some time in singles.”

There are also a number of experienced players to provide depth for the girls. “I am rotating Annika Sampson, Annie Harper, Molly Hodgkins and Hannah Erickson, who has really shown a lot of progress this year, said Coach Rowell. “We also have the addition of Megan Phelps. She has really picked it up. She hits the ball. Hard. I like what she is doing. She wants to play so she could be a big addition to the team once she gets her feet wet.”

Hurdles

The biggest challenge this season for the boys is going to be for them to maintain a positive attitude going into the season.

“They are going to face a bunch of challenges this year. They are going to get beat handily early in the season just due to a lack of experience,” Coach Rowell said. “Right now they are really into it and wanting to learn. If they don’t get too frustrated with losing early by the end of the season we could start winning some of those close matches. We could surprise some teams.”

The major hurdle for the girls ultimately involves self-realization. “If they step up and understand that they are a good tennis team and realize their potential I think we could challenge for being one of the top teams in the PVC,” Coach Rowell said. “It would be nice to host a playoff match this year instead of having to travel.”

For more sports news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

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