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Preview: Westerly boys’ tennis


Head coach:

Stephen Conroy (5th season).

Assistant coach:

Larry Walsh.

Last year:

The Bulldogs finished 0-12 overall, 0-12 Division I-Metropolitan B (last in the six-team league).

Returning to varsity:

Seniors:

Christian Walsh, Callum Gunn, Rob Rice, Drew Widdifield, Ian Rose.

Juniors:

Geoff Cote.

Sophomores:

Max Kreckel.

New to varsity:

Senior:

Tom McGuire.

Junior:

Conner Rose.

Outlook:

A perfect storm of misfortune hit the Westerly boys’ tennis program last season, four years after the Bulldogs finished with a 16-2 record and lost in the Division II state finals in 2008. Not only has Westerly struggled to compete favorably in Division I after moving to Rhode Island’s highest division in 2010, the Bulldogs are stuck in a rebuilding mode with a dearth of year-round tennis players in school. Westerly lost every match by 7-0 scores last year save for one 5-2 defeat.

Conroy led Westerly to a Division II state semifinal berth in his first season of coaching in 2010, but since the squad has posted 2-14, 2-14 and last year’s winless record since moving up to Division I.

Smithfield won Division I-Metropolitan B with a 12-0 record and topped Division I-Metropolitan A co-champ LaSalle Academy 4-2 in the state finals.

“We’re a big underdog and have been dealt a tough draw,” Conroy said, “but our seniors are used to the league and are hoping to show improvement, playing longer, playing deeper into matches.”

Cote returns as the No. 1 singles player. “He looks good and has played all winter at Mystic Indoor Tennis,” Conroy said. The rest of the lineup will be determined by a preseason tournament draw. Only nine players dot the roster, so everyone will see action somewhere.

Walsh, Gunn and Rice joined Cote in most singles’ lineups last season. Widdifield and Ian Rose formed the No. 1 doubles squad.

Kreckel and newcomers, junior Conner Rose and senior McGuire, will likely see doubles action if they do not merit a singles’ slot.

Conroy still seeks one more player who would fill out the No. 3 doubles team. Last year, a lack of one player caused the Bulldogs to forfeit a number of third doubles matches.

Coach’s take:

“We don’t get any breaks with our division. However, our seniors are looking to become more competitive and improve their skills.”



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