Underclassmen fill the spots on the MHS boys' tennis team
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., May. 5, 2011
The Manchester High School boys’ tennis program is fortunate to have an important element for high school sports: coaching consistency. Dave Maloney has been the boys’ tennis team coach for 29 years. The previous coach, Phil Hyde, was Maloney’s tennis coach when he attended MHS, and Hyde was the coach for many years as well.
This has been a difficult year for the team - although the record is still evenly-balanced with wins and losses - because it lost many seniors to graduation last year. “We lost two very good seniors, who were good players and very good leaders,” noted Maloney. Most of the doubles teams last year were composed of seniors.
This year, there are five seniors, only two of whom are starters: Mike Brophy is the number-two singles player and Matt Wilhoft is the number-three doubles player. The other seniors are Brian Hughes, Melvin Rodriguez and Richard Whitehead.
Despite having a fairly young and inexperienced team, Maloney is optimistic. “We started slowly with two real close losses,” he said. “They’ve come back nicely, and won two close ones in a row, which helped their confidence. I’m hoping that we go to state this year,” said Maloney.
According to the coach, Paul Maloney and Mike Brophy are the top players, both of whom played a lot of singles matches last year. The number-one doubles player is freshman Austin Melesko. Fellow freshman Peter Godwin is the number-four singles player. “It’s great to have a couple of ninth-graders helping the team at this point,” said Maloney, noting that the freshmen are often playing against seniors, which is quite an accomplishment, both in terms of experience and size.
Co-captain senior Mike Brophy started playing tennis in the first grade, and continues to play because of the strategy required for the game. “There are so many styles of playing,” said Brophy, “it’s interesting.” He said the team members this year are picking up the slack left by so many graduating seniors last year. “We had so many seniors with tennis as their life,” he explained. “A lot of the guys have really picked it up. This year I have seen so much improvement.”
Co-captain senior Melvin Rodriquez described himself as a competitor. “I never give up,” he said. “I work hard, not only for me, but for the team as well.” He only started playing tennis his sophomore year. “I just love being on the court now.” He also said that his team is known for strong character. “We work hard,” added Rodriquez, “I believe we’re better than our record.”
Junior Paul Maloney has been playing tennis his whole life, but only started playing seriously in the seventh grade. “The more serious I take it, the more fun I have,” he explained. He sees his strength as consistency. “High school tennis is all about making mistakes,” he said, explaining that the key is to give the other team an opportunity to make a mistake first, simply by returning the ball. Last year, Maloney was the team’s number-three player. As a junior, this year, he’s now the team’s number-one player.