Last year, the Stowe High boys tennis team Came. This. Close. to winning a state championship, and this year the team is hungry for the real thing.

The Stowe Reporter caught up with Coach Jamie Watson for his thoughts on the squad’s potential this year. Coaching along with Watson is Jeff Seivwright.

Q. Results last year

A: We went undefeated throughout our entire 2018 season up until the state finals versus Essex. We were edged out 4-3 in the championship match and finished as state runners up.

Q. Turnout this year?

A: The turnout was strong as usual this year, with a key returning 15 players and a few welcome additions.

Q. Key returning players?

A: Seniors Ben Salvas and Sam Schoepke will play integral roles in both our singles and doubles lineups.

Our junior class continues to improve and dominate our starting singles lineup. Juniors Rai Bleda-Vilalta, Max McKenna, Alex Tilgner and Jackson Seivwright were key role players in last year’s undefeated season and I’m very happy to have them back competing, not only against one another, but with Vermont’s best.

Juniors Park Crist, Oliver Paumgarten and Max Gentle are all in contention to represent our team on any given match day.

This year our freshman and sophomore athletes came into this season stronger than in the past and have started challenging upperclassmen for starting positions. Our team relies on our depth and athleticism to consistently win matches and, with the strength of our current freshman and sophomore classes, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Q. Key newcomers?

A: The team picked up a duo of Paumgartens. Sophomore Henry Paumgarten and his one-year-older cousin Oliver Paumgarten both joined the team for the first time this season and now join each other as doubles partners. They come from an avid tennis family and if it worked for the Bryan Brothers, hey, it might just work for the Paumgarten cousins. So far, the duo is undefeated on the season!

Q. Match results so far?

A: Undefeated, at 2-0.

The first match of the year was tight as we fought to break off the rust from last season and transition to outdoor elements. St. Johnsbury proved to be a tough fight; however, we prevailed 4-3.

Q. Big matches for the spring?

A: The spring season is by far the shortest athletic season of the high school sports calendar. For us, every match is critical. We need every opportunity to develop under pressure into the best version of ourselves.

That being said, I’d like to focus on the season one week at a time. We played (and beat) Colchester High School Tuesday and will host Montpelier at home this Thursday. Our toughest competition will come from Burlington, South Burlington and Essex.

Q. Thoughts on the season?

A: If we play up to our abilities, we will win the Vermont state championship. We have the team, skill set and motivation to be the strongest team in the state.

That being said, it’s a mental battle for anyone who has ever competed on a tennis court and it will require us to play our best tennis yet and develop into better competitors.

Win or lose, it’s a great group of guys and a fun team to work with.

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