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Defending state champs back for more

After an outstanding winter on the slopes had Michael Workman qualify for the Meet of Champions, the senior will look to aid his Gilford tennis squad as they look to repeat as state champs. File Photo. (click for larger version)
April 04, 2011
GILFORD – Last year saw the Gilford High School boys' tennis team finally exercise its demon, as the Golden Eagles knocked off rival Derryfield School in the Class M-S semifinals before knocking off Inter-Lakes to capture the 2010 state championship.

The landscape looks a little different this time around, as Derryfield made the jump up to Division I. A host of teams have dropped down to newly formed Division III-IV, with Bow and Kearsarge two of the most notables.

"Derryfield had always been our nemesis and we were able to beat them on our way to the title," said GHS coach Terry Wilson. "Now they're gone and there's some new teams on our schedule. We've had great history with Bow, dating back to the late 90s and early 2000s before they went to Class I."

Expectations are high in Gilford this spring, as the Eagles return their entire starting lineup from last year's title team. All of the squad's top seven are seniors as well, adding to the desire to go out on top with another championship.

Curt Chapin leads the way in the top singles slot, and he will likely team with number two singles player Andrew Kwist at the first doubles spot. Parker Raus played third singles last year and will likely handle those duties again, while Stefan Defregger should have number four singles locked up. Classmates Michael Workman and Max Fisher round out the top six, while Tyler Caulfield is next in line and will add depth to the lineup.

"All of those guys saw a lot of action last year," said Wilson. "It's been tough not getting outside with the weather but if there's a time to have experienced kids, it's when you can't get out on the court right away. These guys are tested veterans so that helps, even though they're dying to get out on the courts."

After falling to Derryfield in the championship match in 2008 and 2009, Gilford was able to get past the Cougars last year thanks to a well-balanced lineup.

"Their coach told me after the match that this was the year we had the depth," Wilson explained. "In years past, we had strong 1-2 or maybe 5-6, but last year we had solid play all the way down through our lineup. One through seven gave me depth I never had before and there was very little dropoff. It was so big for our program, to knock off the seven-time defending champion. But we still had one more match against Inter-Lakes and we played very well in the finals."

Wilson said his team is aware that there is a price to success, as other teams will now be even more focused on Gilford when the Eagles come to town.

"We talked about that the first day," he explained. "It's a unique situation because now everyone wants to come out and try and beat us. We have to play even better to get back to where we want to be.

"We're the defending champs but everyone is tied for first to start the year," he continued. "We can't have letdowns and that's been a focus. Certainly they would love to win again so they know they have to keep working hard."

While the doubles lineup also isn't entirely set in stone, Wilson says he likes to go with what works. Gilford had Chapin-Kwist, Raus-Defregger and Workman-Fisher as its doubles tandems last year, while Caulfield subbed in effectively.

"I'm not a coach that says I'm never going to tinker but I'm also old-school in if it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said. "I haven't seen anything that tell me I need to break it up but if that happens, I'll certainly look at it. Andrew and Curt have played together since their first match freshman year so they're nice and steady and comfortable with each other."

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