The Spruce Mountain boys’ tennis team continues to grow three years after its inception as a program.

For most of the players, this is their third season of playing competitive tennis at any level. The team is led by senior Michael Paradis and juniors Jacob Luce and Nick Guild.

They are learning on the fly and winning at the same time. After a slow start to the 2013 campaign (2-4), the Phoenix finished the second half of the season 4-2 before losing in the Western Class B quarterfinals to Cape Elizabeth.

The key to their turnaround?


“Confidence grew immensely. The competition as far as the kids’ competitiveness increased immensely,” coach Josh Newhall said. “We’re coming back from away matches and we would get home early, the kids would go to the courts to go play tennis. We would have a home match that would end early. The kids would stay at the courts and continue playing.”


The players also continued to play during the offseason, as several players made the 15-mile trip from the high school to the University of Maine at Farmington to use it courts during the summer and winter months. Newhall saw improvements right away when the high school spring season opened up for practices.

“It helped us be more ready for this year. It helps the chemistry when you are helping other players out. You get to know their strengths and weaknesses,” Nick Guild said of going up to Farmington to rent court times. “During the winter, we would go play. So going all year long helped us be more prepared for this year and help the other players out.”

With last year’s success, word started to travel around school, and this season, the team has six newcomers: senior David Stone, junior Chris Davenport and freshmen Shay Bragg, William Brenner, Trevor Doiron and Nick Curullo.

Newhall, in his second season as the team’s coach, implemented an aggressive style of play that he learned at Madison, where he played from 2004-08.

“Basically, our message is we play a more aggressive style of tennis,” Newhall said. “A lot of schools and a lot of players don’t play as aggressively as we do which compensates some for our lack of experience.”

He said being aggressive allows the inexperienced players to end a point more quickly so they don’t have to have too many long rallies with more experienced opponents.


For many of the players, the strategy took some getting used to during the season.

“I didn’t agree with it earlier in the year, but I transformed,” Paradis said.

With the lack of playing experience, the team is learning the game at the same pace.

“It does make it easier because we are all learning the same drills at the same time,” Paradis said. “We are all working on the same things and no one is really ahead of each other. When somebody is learning something, we all can learn it at the same time and (Newhall) doesn’t have to explain different levels of the game.”

Newhall is trying to keep things fun for the players heading into this season so they don’t feel too much pressure coming into the 2014 season. Their goals still remain high and are looking to improve on last year’s mark.

“We know a lot more on what we are doing, and I feel like we are going to better in the playoffs if we get a higher seed,” Guild said. “I think this year we will play a lot better and go farther definitely. Last year, not having a losing season helped us a lot.”

The players say having Newhall for a second straight year also helps as they have chemistry with him and he knows them.

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