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Seniors Ready to Step in to Defend Boys' Tennis CAL Small Title

The high school boys' tennis team has new batch of upperclassmen ready to take over for last year's graduates.

The good thing for a boys' tennis program like the one at  is that there are so many top-notch players that usually the varsity squad is littered with upperclassmen.

The downside for players who probably could be playing singles at another school is they have to wait their turn. But that also gives them the incentive to prove their worth when the opportunity affords it.

The Generals once again will be upperclassmen-heavy this spring, with three seniors who played varsity on last year’s Cape Ann League Small championship squad.

“We definitely have a lot of seniors this year. It will be good,” said coach Joe Maher, who is in his 14th season at the helm. “The funny thing is of the seniors only three of them have significant varsity experience. So it will be an interesting year to see how all turns out at the end. We’ve been going through a process where we graduate seniors and others step up the next year. We hope it continues this year.”

Leading the way should be CAL all-league player Stuart Rowe, who returns at No. 1 singles for the Generals. He is a four-year player and finished with a 12-3 record in 2011.

Brian Rodgers, another senior, will start the season at No. 2 singles, up from his spot on the second doubles team last year. His partner from a year ago, Joey Merrill, looks to be the anchor of the No. 1 doubles tandem.

Joe Love, a sophomore who is battling the injury bug but could return in the second or third match, figures to be in the singles mix, according to Maher.

“Stuart has the most experience on the team but I expect Joey and Brian behind him to fill in nicely,” Maher said. “I expect good things from them, and Joe Love.”

Maher has been especially impressed with Rodgers, who grabbed the No. 2 spot through challenge matches during the preseason.

“He’s definitely up for the challenge," said Maher. "He’s played singles before, but not in the realm of varsity singles.”

Rounding out what Maher expects to be the rest of the roster are seniors Ben Chansky (No. 3 singles), and doubles players Jacob Cline, Jacob Rendall and Ryan Richards.

Despite little or no varsity experience, Maher is comfortable putting their names on the lineup card.

“All the kids who didn’t play (varsity) last year …. they really put the work in during the off-season,” Maher explained. “They will be a factor and will fill in the holes (left from graduating seniors).”

Maher is looking at Manchester-Essex, Pentucket and North Andover to again challenge for the top team in the CAL. Manchester-Essex – two to be exact – but the Hornets are in the large division, giving the league title to the Generals.

“I don’t think there is one dominant team this year,” he said. “Our kids believe they are the best team and I like going in with that attitude. But we will have to earn it.”

The Generals will see what they are made of having to , on Wednesday. They open Monday at Burlington, the first of two matches this season against the perennially strong Division 2 team.

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