THE MELROSE High boy’s tennis team opens at home on Monday against Belmont. (photo by Raj Das www.edphotos.com)

 

By JENNIFER GENTILE

MELROSE—After a season of change last year, the Melrose Red Raider boys’ tennis team returns to a full schedule in the spring of 2022 and will open this week with two home matches on March 31 and at home Monday against Belmont.

Second year coach Sam Stallings is looking forward to this team getting back outside and enjoying a 16-match schedule. He will be at the helm of a considerably young class with no seniors. Leading the team as captains this year will be sophomores Patrick Stratford and Caleb Miller. This presents Melrose the distinct chance to build a foundation for the years to come. Coach Stallings has noted progress among the squad. “This year, we’re returning six players with varsity match experience. Everyone on our team last year played in a match.”

Melrose faced a shortened season last spring and faced some tough challenges along the way. But in those losses, many of their matches were close. Says the coach, “We had lots of close matches and only lost three matches by a score of 5-0. In the other ten matches, we earned at least a point off of the other team.”

Singles starters include Patrick Stratford, their only returning singles player from last year and Sean Donovan, a junior who is new to the team. “We currently have multiple players vying for the third singles spot, as that position has not been decided yet,” says the coach. Returning starters Caleb Miller, Nathan Chow, and Ben Rossi will all likely see time at doubles this season after a year in the varsity lineup.

With seventeen players on the roster, Melrose has all the ingredients it needs to cook up something special this year. “I see teamwork and camaraderie as being a strength. I’m confident in most of my players’ strokes and fundamentals. We’ll focus a lot more on strategy and how to beat different opponents and teams.”

As for the competition, Melrose starts off the season against always-formidable Middlesex Large teams, Woburn, Belmont and Reading. The Freedom League was competitive last year and should be again. Says the coach, “We have probably the youngest team in the league, so the sooner we can gain confidence and more match experience, the better. I’m looking forward to our returning players using experience to their advantage this season and how our new additions contribute.”