NORTH KINGSTOWN — Sometimes a fresh outlook on things is all it takes and that is just what the North Kingstown High School boys tennis team will have as it takes the court this season.
Matt Marion takes over as coach for the Skippers in his first endeavor into high school coaching as NK searches for its first winning season since the spring of 2008.
A long-standing coach on the individual and professional level, Marion looks to bring that same approach to the Skippers this season.
“I’m guiding them with that know-how, individually,”Marion said.
“I work them hard in practice. Just trying to work on basics. Build them as individual players. Doubles teams stick together. Work on the singles game for the singles guys and doubles strategies for the doubles guys.”
The coach’s young career is off to an encouraging start. At 2-3 following Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to division-leading LaSalle Academy, the wins might not yet be there for North Kingstown but the team’s play is starting to come together and their outlook on the season remains positive.
“We’re having a good season,” remarked the coach. “Started off with some tough teams but we’re trying to piece it all together and working hard. We take each match as it comes.
“We’re hoping if we can just get to the playoffs, we’ll be firing on full. That’s our thought.”
With a tough schedule, absences and injuries, the Skippers were tested early this spring. Their coach, however, feels as though they have a strong depth to their ladder that has helped them take on those early challenges and will continue to aid them as the season goes along.
“Probably our depth,” said the coach when asked of his team’s strength. “One, two, three and four [singles], any given day they could beat each other, so it’s good.”
Marion has options like seniors Brett Taggart and Lucas Ho, and junior Matt Delgreco to rely on at the top of his rotation, but also has options like surprise freshman Mike Allen, who stepped in and played his first singles match Tuesday in the wake of Ho’s absence.
“His game in the past two weeks has completely improved,” said Marion of the freshman. “We’re excited to have him.”
Despite all the positivity, the Skippers are not without their areas of improvement for this season.
They might have the talent to compete with the top programs in the state, but the team will have to apply themselves on the court if they are hoping to make real strides towards a winning season.
“Consistency, mindset, focus, all those things I think they are lacking,” Marion said. “There’s a lot of good talent. They can play well in practice, but then they give away too many points.
“It’s definitely going to improve. It has to.”
Tuesday’s loss to LaSalle was the third straight for the Skippers following a 2-0 start. The team has the rest of the week off before returning to action Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. when they host Barrington.