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2023 Season Preview: A different kind of season for boys tennis

It’s a case of hoping more people will come out, if not this year, than certainly next.

The Woodstock Academy boys tennis team finds itself a little shy on numbers this season, having only eight players out for the team.

It’s a complete 180-degree turn from a year ago for coach Siana Green who enters her sixth year at the helm.

“It’s a big change from having to cut two people last year, which was horrible because I’ve never had to make cuts, to now struggling to field a full team. It’s a lot of change, a lot of different skill levels and that makes the drills a bit different than in previous years,” Green said.

The Centaurs lost Jai Abrams, Evan Haskins, and Joe Zhou to graduation.

As it is now, Woodstock Academy will enter its matches down 1-0 as it can not field a third doubles team.

“We’ve been going out and asking everyone. I don’t care if they have never played, we can work with them,” Green said.

There is a mitigating factor.

The tennis courts at the Bentley Athletic Complex are just not playable which means the team must practice and play at the Pomfret School. Those practices and matches generally take place in the late afternoon or early evening which makes it difficult for parents to get the players there or to come and get them to bring them home or both.

“The schedule is all over the place and kids like to have a set routine so that’s why a lot of kids from last year are not returning because the team’s schedule doesn’t mesh with their schedule,” Green said.

The Centaurs finished the 2022 season with a 9-7 record and do have a returning Eastern Connecticut Conference All-Star in Tyler Chamberlin who did so in doubles last season. The sophomore will likely see action in singles this season alongside seniors Cormac Neilsen, James Le and Diego Rodriguez and fellow sophomore Owen Rigney.

One of those players will likely pair up with junior Eli Staples in doubles while freshmen Quentin Paterson and Ryan Chabot will likely comprise another doubles team.

“There are a couple of teams who we are hopeful to get wins against. We have a pretty young team with Tyler and Owen as sophomores. It’s definitely a rebuilding year so we’re just working on their mental game the most. They are going to play against kids that may be better than them and some that won’t be as good but probably not against a lot of players of similar skill level,” Green said.

The Centaurs will also have a smaller schedule than in the past with only 13 regular-season matches scheduled, all of them against Eastern Connecticut Conference foes.

“We’re just so fortunate that other teams are agreeing to come to us and play at a later time,” Green said.

Due to that later time, it’s likely the Centaurs will play home matches with no advantage scoring rules where the first player to reach four points in a game, wins.

“That will, hopefully, make matches quicker,” Green said. “We’ve been practicing different styles to see how long it takes but when we’re playing each other, we’re all at the same skill level. If we play a team like East Lyme, we might be able to do ad scoring and not have a problem.”

There is one advantage.

Playing at Pomfret means there are indoor courts available, however, that will accommodate only four of the six matches (since the Centaurs do not have a third doubles team at this time) that have to be played.

Woodstock Academy opens the season at home at Pomfret School against New London at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and takes on Killingly at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday also at home.