MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Academy Mustangs boys’ tennis team knew what it had to work on coming into the 2015 season.

It wasn’t the forehand or backhand; neither services nor volleys. The Mustangs didn’t need a racket, net, or court, but they knew they needed more stamina.

The team returns five of the seven players from last season’s squad that went 9-2 in the regular season and fell in the Western Class C regional semifinals to the North Yarmouth Academy Panthers.

“As a team, last year needed to work on our endurance,” Kasey Smith said. “We did well in the regular season, but once we got into the three-set matches in the postseason, it was pretty clear we weren’t as in shape as we thought we were.”

The team opened up the playoffs as the No. 3 seed with an opening round 5-0 win over Wiscasset before falling to the No. 2 Panthers, 3-2.

Smith is one of four seniors on the squad and will be the Mustangs’ No. 1 singles player when they open the 2015 campaign at home against Madison on April 27. He said most of the team plays a varsity sport in the fall and winter, which helps keep everybody in shape. He added that running in practice builds up that endurance.

Tyler Cote, the team’s No. 3 singles player is a sophomore, picked up the game last year. He had another avenue to work on his conditioning.

“I just snowboarded a lot and got in shape,” Tyler Cote said. “It makes my legs stronger and (provides) good balance.”

Building that stamina could be the difference between winning and losing, according to coach Dania Frost.

“We had some matches that were very long last year that we could have won or didn’t because of it,” Frost said. “We really are really focusing on building that stamina and conditioning, especially since this season we are unsure of the weather. We can at least get that done.”

The team finally was able to use its courts last Monday.

“They are really excited to be able to get out here and hit,” Frost said. “That’s what we are working on right now, getting the kinks out and hitting around. We will really start more drills (this) week.”

With the majority of players back, the Mustangs hope the chemistry returns from last year’s team. They know eyes will be on them based on their recent success.

“I think the last past eight years, at least, we have been to the playoffs,” Smith said. “We go to regional semifinals most years and have been to the regional finals quite a few times. There will always be pressure, but this is going be about us getting past that and focusing on the goals. Any of us (four) seniors, it could be our last match if we don’t win in the playoffs.”

One of Smith’s personal goals this season is to make it to the quarterfinals of the state singles tournament. Last year he advanced to the Round of 32, where he was bounced by Waterville’s Zack Disch in three sets.

Frost took over the program when Smith and his fellow seniors were freshmen.

“All of them have played all four years that I have coached,” Frost said of the four seniors. “So yeah, I am close to them. Especially Kasey, I guess because I played singles in high school as well, going through the singles’ tournament and all those things. It’s an exciting year for him, and he will have a great year.”

The other three seniors are Ben Bolstridge, who will be the No. 2 player behind Smith, and Keith Anderson and Mason Clement, who will play doubles.

Like many schools in the area, the Mustangs had to recruit a few kids to join the team to round out the roster. Sophomores Dan Martin and David Reynolds answered the call.

“It’s something they can play lifelong and all summer,” Frost said. “It only takes two to play, and that’s why I think they are out here playing to give it a try.”

The biggest obstacle Cote had to overcome last season was learning the rules of game. Cote will help Martin and Reynolds adjust to the game.

“I will probably help them out by teaching them the rules as much as I can,” Cote said. “At the beginning of (last) year, I didn’t know any of the rule. (My teammates) taught me, and I am pretty good now.”

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