BAR HARBOR — The early part of the spring sports season around here is catch-as-catch-can. The tennis courts at Mount Desert Island High School have been clear of snow for the first weeks of practice, but spectators at the team’s first preseason match Monday against George Stevens Academy were bundled up like it was midwinter.
The MDI varsity girls’ tennis team went 10-3 last year, and the boys were 7-5. This year, the team will have many newcomers, Coach Ben Rowell said, so he’s looking at it as a rebuilding year. But he’s also very encouraged by the players’ hard work in practice. Garrett Lee is assistant coach for the varsity team.
“They’ve already improved a ton just from, what, four days of practices,” he said. “Because of show choir, I’ve only had like eight or nine girls.”
There’s also school vacation coming up, but the April 26 season opener at home against Hermon will be here in a flash.
Senior Ellie Bridgers will play first singles. Senior Emily Banks, who played at first doubles for most of last season, also likely will be in the singles lineup.
“It’s only her second year playing tennis, and she’s now playing singles, so she’s kind of in a rough spot to start because she’s new to it,” Rowell said. “But she’s picked it up really quick. I think she’s got a great attitude, and she’s gonna figure it out.”
Sophomore Rachelle Swanson, who played doubles last year, also played a singles match Monday. Senior Bailey Cust, juniors Maggie Collins and Maggie Strong, sophomore Katie Hoff, and freshmen Isabella Michael and Austria Morehouse are on the varsity roster, though Rowell said he may use a few more swingers from the JV team as the coaching staff deems them ready to move up.
On the boys’ side, the team has good depth, he said, with lots of juniors and seniors.
“Drake Janes and Gabe Michael should lead the way in singles, and then we’ll have to figure out where that third singles spot shoots out.”
Varsity seniors include Max Craigo, Lanvin Estacio, Nolan Murphy and Michael Borge. September Murray, Ryan Kelly and Nick Harding are juniors.
The singles lineup will be determined by challenge matches in the coming weeks, Rowell said. At doubles, “I like to put the best teams together, try and figure out who works the best with each other. Once we get a doubles team, there might be some challenging to see if first doubles is better than second doubles.
“I like to try and mix it up all season, at least at second doubles,” he said. “Usually first doubles plays a lot together for a lot of the season, since technically they should be around the fourth- or fifth-best players on the team.”