Surprising Season for Boys' Tennis Ends with Playoff Loss to Quaboag

Published in the June 13, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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This season, the Nashoba Regional boys' tennis team proved they could win the close ones. Next year's team will have to prove they can do it the playoffs.

In posting an impressive 12-5 record this season, only three times did the Chieftains end up on the losing end of a 3-2 score—a far cry from two seasons earlier, when they suffered seven such losses and were winless in league play. But the last of this season's three heartbreakers, at the hands of the Quaboag Cougars, ended Nashoba's season in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

“That was a tough one,” said team captain and first singles player Matt Powers of Stow. “We were very close to pulling it off, but it just wasn't our day.”

Facing off against Quaboag on June 1, the Chieftains dug themselves a hole early with losses in both third singles and first doubles before the competition was postponed due to weather. When play resumed two days later, victories in second singles and second doubles had Nashoba in position to pull off the comeback, but Powers came up short in the deciding match.

It was a disappointing end to a season in which the Chieftains—with only two seniors on the team—had by all accounts exceeded expectations. The team's torrid 7-2 start, including a 4-1 victory over the West Boylston team that had knocked Nashoba out of the playoffs in 2006, was particularly gratifying.

“We did win quite a few of our first few matches. That was a pleasant surprise,” said third-year coach Brenda Mason, who also lives in Stow.

The Chieftains went on to finish the regular season 12-4 overall and 7-3 in the Mid-Wach B league, good for second place behind Westboro. Three of the four losses came against teams that would go on to win division championships – two to eventual Central Division 1 winner Westboro and one to Central Division 2 winner St. Peter-Marian.

Mason says the strong showing can be attributed to hard work and smarter play.

“Lately the boys have become smarter. They don't think they have to hit every shot to kill,” she said. “Although every so often when they have the opportunity, they'll put it away.”

Mason and Powers also credit Nashoba girls' tennis coach Dan Spedding, who runs an annual summer tennis camp at Center School in Stow, with giving younger players the skills they need to excel at the high school level. Not surprisingly, nine of the 13 members of the boys' team this season were from Stow, including Powers, junior Jeff Stefanis (second singles), senior Tim James (third singles), and sophomore Jeff Stokes (second doubles).

“I went to Mr. Spedding's camp when I was a kid for about five years, and I know that's what got me to love tennis,” Powers said. “It's definitely an advantage of living in Stow.”

Stefanis, who finished the season with a 12-3 record and advanced to the third round of the individual district tournament, and Stokes, whose doubles team lost only two matches all season, will return next year to lead a strong Chieftains squad that is unlikely to sneak up on anyone.

“The team will be even better next year,” said Powers, who will be attending Penn State in the fall. “We have a lot of young talent, and they're going to have a great year under the watchful eye of Ms. Mason.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239