Ryan Boquist will likely be one of the top returning players next spring for the Lakers. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
June 18, 2012MEREDITH – There were big changes for the Inter-Lakes boys' tennis team this spring. Veteran coach Bill West was left with a depleted lineup from last year due to graduation and a plethora of new players burst onto the scene for the first time. Despite the lineup changes, the Lakers managed to finish just below the .500 mark, as a 6-8 final record was the result of a promising season on the courts at Prescott Park.
Sophomore Mason Peverly made the big move from sixth singles as a freshman to the top spot this spring, and he showed he belonged amongst the best in Division III.
"Mason played his best tennis against the strongest number one players," said West, who will lose Peverly to a year in Chile next spring as a foreign exchange student. "He showed significant growth this season and he'll be missed next year."
Senior Tanner Martin was next in line for I-L as the number two singles player this spring, and he made a similar jump to Peverly in that he came from the seven-slot in the Lakers ladder as a junior.
"Tanner competed hard each match, often against opponents with stronger skills, but he never gave up," said West of Martin, the lone senior in the top six.
Junior Ryan Boquist saw his game improve greatly as the year progressed at third singles, and he finished with a winning record of 7-6. Boquist will likely have a shot at the first singles spot next spring.
"Everyone on the team agreed he was our most improved player this year," said West of Boquist.
Fellow junior Johnny Connell held the fort at the number four singles spot for I-L, and his success came when he was patient with his game. Classmate Mike Gagnon was new to the sport this spring but quickly acclimated himself and became a steady performer at number five.
Foreign exchange student Ben Rubio from the Philippines was the team's sixth singles player, and despite being brand new to the sport when the season opened in March, won some big matches down the stretch and finished with more wins than losses to pace the bottom half of the lineup.
"Ben's a good athlete with natural talent for tennis," said West. "He won most of his matches."
Senior Jake Baggaley was the first man off the bench for the Lakers, as he saw time when one of the top six wasn't available. Freshmen DJ Parker and Gage Wheeler spent the season learning the game, with most of their action taking place in challenge and exhibition matches. Both will be counted on to step into the lineup down the road.
"Only four players returned from last year's team as we lost the starting four to graduation," explained West. "It was a rebuilding year with Peverly moving up to one and the rest of the team having no competitive experience. Any success this year was questionable but the team took advantage of the great tennis weather in March and April and practiced really hard. The scheduled turned out to be tough with eight of our 14 matches against the six teams that made the playoffs. Despite the inexperienced and tough schedule, they hung tough together, stayed positive and won six matches."
West pointed to a match with rival Moultonboro Academy as the team's most memorable of the year, as the Lakers avenged a loss to MA earlier in the season for a 6-3 win over the Panthers in the season finale.
"We lost to Moultonboro in April, 5-4, in a close match," the coach said. "We wanted to beat them at our last match of the season. We split the singles, 3-3 but swept all three doubles, including a very close first doubles score of 8-6."
With Peverly and Martin gone for next spring, expect the lineup shuffling to continue for the Lakers as they hope to improve on the six-win 2012 campaign.