Old Rochester Regional’s boys’ tennis has dominated the South Coast Conference for the past four seasons, and they enter this season as the reigning champions once again. While most of the team is returning for the 2018 campaign, for the first time in over a decade the Bulldogs will be without their head coach, Russ Keeler.
But Keeler’s replacement, Mike Beson, is in a good position to take over, having been Keeler’s assistant for the last four seasons.
“It is a completely different kind of focus on the responsibilities,” Beson said. “The first time it really set in was when I told the team cuts were happening Wednesday. So, on Tuesday night, I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to do about the reality of making cuts for the first time ever.
“And then I just ended up not making any cuts and keeping twenty kids,” said Beson.
One unexpected player on the roster is Old Rochester basketball standout senior Bennett Fox, who’s never even tried out for the tennis team before. Though he’s played casually, Fox has never given the sport a real shot, but he has shocked Beson and the team that’s recognized as the powerhouse of the SCC.
“He has pretty quickly [inserted himself] into our starting lineup,” Beson said. “Which is kind of unheard of in tennis for a strong team. We’ve joked and said it a bunch … we wish we could go back in time and get a tennis racket in his hands because he’d be something special. He’s going to be really good this year.”
Beson’s lineup will remain relatively similar at the top, with Sam Pasquill filling in the No. 1 slot in his senior campaign. Though Alex Bilodeau is gone, having graduated from ORR in 2017, his replacement at the No. 2 slot, senior Jahn Pothier, is more than capable of taking over. Junior Ray Williams played second doubles last year and could factor into singles play or first doubles. Geoff Noonan saw some action last season and is expected to contribute throughout.
All this gives Old Rochester as good a chance as any school, if not an even better chance, to win the SCC title, which would be the fifth in as many seasons.
“It’s been a down couple years for the conference as a whole. There’ve been good players, but there haven’t been teams that have been as deep as us,” Beson said. “Though we’re hopeful that teams will be a little bit stronger. We’ve got a good, tough non-league schedule just in case. But we’re optimistic that some teams will be a little bit better. And with Somerset Berkley being new to the league, we have no idea what they’ll be like. We’re optimistic we’ll have some good matchups in the conference.”
In addition to Dartmouth and Duxbury who the Bulldogs played last year – though they’ll visit Duxbury this year rather than host like last season – Old Rochester also added Bishop Feehan and North Plymouth to the non-league schedule in hopes of preparing for the playoffs.
While the postseason seems like a lock for Old Rochester, despite graduating Caleb Jagoda, Max Wolski and Josh Lerman in addition to Bilodeau, the team is still concerning itself with winning the SCC first. The hope is that by focusing on each individual game, they’ll be more than ready for the MIAA tournament when the time comes.
Kelly Browne was the recent female recipient of the John Carlton Memorial Trophy for her excellence on the ice for Tabor Academy’s girls’ hockey team. The award is given annually by the Boston Bruins to outstanding boys and girls in Eastern Massachusetts high school or junior hockey “who combine exceptional hockey skills with academic excellence.” The trophy is named after Carlton, a long time Bruins scout and administrator.
Browne finished her career with the Seawolves in spectacular fashion, scoring 27 goals, while logging 13 assists, totaling at 40 points over 22 games in her senior season.
In addition to being named the Independent School League MVP, she was also named the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council’s female hockey player of the year.
Browne was also part of the United States’ Under-18 Women’s National Team that won the gold medal at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship in Dmitrov, Russia.
Browne plans to continue her career and education at Boston College in the fall.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar