It’s been a tough start to the spring sports season for area tennis teams, which can’t seem to catch a break with the weather.

“For us, this has definitely been one of the worst years, weather-wise,” Skowhegan girls tennis coach Andrew Staples said. “A big part of that is — because of where our court sits — there are 80 foot pine trees right behind them that shade the court. So the team was out there (last) Monday picking up four inches (of) thick ice just so we could practice and be ready to play.”

Several other teams have found it difficult to compete outside because of rain and cold temperatures, resulting in postponements and indoor practices.

“As far as practices go, (the weather) is killing us,” Erskine coach Ryan Nored said. “I don’t have a whole lot of tennis players, I have a whole lot of athletes. Playing schools where we’re playing against tennis player after tennis player after tennis player, we’re struggling with the tennis aspect of it.”

While practice in the gym is better than no practice at all, teams are still limited indoors. Coaches say players can work on conditioning, with the occasional swings against a wall or in a batting cage.

“We do some conditioning, talk about what they’ve done right and what they can do to improve to set them up for the next opponent,” Maine Central Institute boys coach Gary Jordan said. “Each player has their own ins and outs on how to improve and fine tune against their opponents. It’s a time to talk to them, for sure.”

Added Staples: “There’s definitely a limit, only so much you can do. The time that we’re in the gym, we have to split up with the other sports. Within an hour, I try my best to do some kind of conditioning, some type of other workout like a strength training. Then some type of thing to get them moving around, whether they’re hitting a ball or not. We’re lucky that we have a big, netted batting cage for the baseball team. We can hit serves into that, and we can work on technique. Within one hour of time, that goes quick.”

The Waterville boys tennis team has practiced indoors at Champions fitness club in Waterville.

“We have been fortunate enough to use Champions fitness club and I thank them for helping us with the weather,” Waterville coach Rob Disch said. ” As far as taking a toll on us only in the way of inconvenience, the guys have handled it pretty well.”

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It’s early in the season, but the Waterville boys have already jumped out to a strong 3-0 start, with 4-1 decisions over Oceanside, Erskine and Medomak Valley. The victories propelled the Purple Panthers to the top of Class B North.

” I have been pleasantly surprised how they have played so far with the weather limiting our practice times and it being so early in the season,” Disch said. “It’s been more of a collective effort by the whole team, but there have been glimpses of very strong play by the team throughout the lineup.”

It’s been the continuation of a successful spring for Disch, who is also the men’s tennis coach at Thomas College. The Terriers are 12-5 this season, which includes a seven-match win streak during the middle of the season.

The Terriers fell 5-0 to Colby Sawyer in the North Atlantic Conference championship match Saturday.

• • •

The Erskine boys are also doing well, going 2-1 with their lone loss coming to Waterville.

“I’m very excited, I’m very happy with them,” Nored said. “And they are, too. Kids like to win. I kind of prepped them that the season as being a struggle and we were going to lose a lot of close matches. Like last year, we lost a lot of close matches 3-2. This season, we’ve just seemed to turn that corner so far.”

Nored gave a lot of credit to No. 1 singles player Nick Howes.

“Nick stands out, he’s playing really good tennis right now,” Nored said. “We’re all sort of rusty — and he is, too — but he’s playing really good tennis, really smart tennis. He’s just run into three really good players, but he’s given all of them really good matches. A three-set match, and two really close two-set matches.”

Nored added that Sam Falla is playing well at No. 2 singles.

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The MCI boys are also off to a 2-1 start.

“This has been the best boys team I’ve coached,” Jordan said. “We’ve got a lot of depth now in the field. I usually only have my top three players playing singles, and the other ones are brand new to the sport. Now, everybody in the lineup is kind of a veteran of tennis.”

Sophomore Ethan Varney has been an early leader for the Huskies. He’s been undefeated so far this season in his singles matches.

“I expect he’ll do very well this season, he’s a very level-headed player,” Jordan said. “Really, he’s consistent when he plays. He’s logical. He knows how to play against his opponent, how to kind of hit to his weakness. He knows his strengths, he knows what he can do.”

• • •

The Waterville girls (3-0) sit atop Class B North with Belfast and Caribou.

The Purple Panthers cruised to 5-0 victories over Oceanside and MCI, and edged Erskine 3-2 on April 23.

After two matches, the Maranacook girls tennis team has also enjoyed an undefeated record, picking up a 5-0 win over Brewer to start the season, as well as a 4-1 victory over Gardiner on April 23. The Black Bears sit at the top of the Class C South standings.

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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