By Bob York
Deerfield just missed a podium invite at the New England Class A Boys Interscholastic Tennis Tournament this spring. The Big Green could be considered the Best of the Rest, however, as it finished up fourth in an eight-team tourney field.
“The kids worked hard, showed improvement, and had fun this year,” reported head coach Jay Morsman.
Overall, Deerfield, which saw four of its matches cancelled due to rain, finished the season with a 9-4 record following a split in the New England tournament. The third-seeded Big Green, which may have been a bit rusty for its postseason showdown—as its two matches prior to the Class A tourney were rained out—bested Hotchkiss, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, but fell to Taft, 4-0, in the semifinal round.
Morsman’s charges got off to a fast start this season, topping an eight-team field to capture the Kingswood Oxford Tournament by a two-point margin over the tourney hosts.
From there, “we had some good wins over Choate (6-0), Exeter (5-2), Hotchkiss (6-1), and Westminster (5-2),” according to Morsman. In fact, of Deerfield’s nine victories this season, only Kingswood Oxford (4-2) came within two points of the Big Green.
“But we also lost some tough, close matches this season against Loomis and Taft,” added the Big Green mentor, in describing a pair of 4-3 setbacks. “Plus, we had three matches rained out, which, I feel, we would have won.”
This spring marked the end of the line for the Big Green’s Big Three, as seniors George Wheatley, Alex Ward, and Robert Long wrapped up careers here that had helped spark Deerfield to a 33-10 record over the past four years.
Wheatley, this spring’s winner of the James L. Ford Deerfield Tennis Trophy as the Big Green’s No. 1 player, was the team’s top seed all season long and paved the way to success with a 9-4 record. Ward and Long, who were the No. 2 and No. 3 players respectively, shared the Holton Sayce Memorial Award, as they, too, closed out on a high note. Ward finished his campaign with an 11-2 showing, while Long produced a 10-3 record.
“All three … Wheatley … Ward … and Long … had an outstanding season for themselves,” said Morsman of a 1-2-3 punch that accounted for a 30-9 singles record this spring. “They’ve played a big part of this program over the last few years, and their athletic talents and leadership skills will be sorely missed.”
Deerfield’s No. 4 man was just a kid, but freshman Gil Roddy just might be the face of Big Green boys tennis for years to come, as the rookie opened his career with a 13-0 record. Oliver Hopkinson, who has been elected as captain of next year’s team, was Deerfield’s No. 5 man, while Justin Schlacks was positioned at No. 6.
Bob York is a Greenfield Recorder wire editor. His email address is email@example.com.