The Thomas Men’s Tennis team was selected to finish third in the 2017 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) East Preseason Coaches’ Poll at the beginning of the season.
The Terriers were led by eight-year head coach Jeff Fowler, and they returned just two players – junior Zachary Disch and sophomore Ross Munn. In 2016, Thomas finished at an even 8-8 overall, while holding a 5-1 record in conference action. The Terriers season came to an end in the NAC Semifinals as they lost to Castleton 7-2. The Terriers saw four new incoming freshmen in Ryan Chasse, Jared Waterhouse, Kaleb Payson, and Mark Amato, along with the addition of sophomore Christo Naranja.
Without a senior on the roster, the young Terriers opened their season with their annual spring trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to endure a tough non-conference schedule. After five matches with Western New England, Wisconsin Lutheran, Nazareth, St. Mary (MD), and Greenville, Thomas found themselves with a 1-4 record.
After a slow start, the team returned home to Maine with ten matches remaining, including all six NAC East matchups. The Terriers responded big by winning nine-straight contests, moving to 10-4 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the conference. Six of the nine matches were 9-0 shutout victories over Green Mountain, MCLA, and twice to Lyndon State and Johnson State. The Terriers defeated Rhode Island College 8-1, while dropping Southern Maine and Castleton each by a 6-3 score. The victory over Southern Maine was a first in Coach Fowler’s tenure.
The season was not over yet, as Thomas had one match remaining in Colby-Sawyer. The Terriers’ winning streak came to a halt against the five-time, defending champions. Since joining the NAC in 2012, the Chargers have never lost a match in conference action, improving to a perfect 34-0.
With a 5-1 record in the NAC, the Terriers entered the 2017 NAC East Tournament as the No. 2 seed, facing third-seeded Castleton. After a fierce battle, Thomas edged out a 5-4 victory, advancing to the championship for the second time in three years. A veteran Colby-Sawyer team once again came out victorious, downing the Terriers for their sixth-straight championship.
Following a great season, the future is bright for the young Terriers squad, as four players were named to All-Conference Teams. Chasse, who played in the first position in singles and doubles as a freshman, was named NAC Rookie of the Year. He was also added to First Team Singles, First Team Doubles, and the Sportsmanship Team. Disch battled in the No. 3 position in singles and teamed up with Chasse in No. 1 doubles throughout the season. He was named to Second Team Singles and First Team Doubles. The No. 2 doubles pairing in Waterhouse and Payson earned Second Team Doubles honors.
Head Coach Jeff Fowler was very pleased with the 2017 season and is excited to move forward with his team.
“I have been extremely pleased with this 2016-2017 season because it’s the best year Thomas Men’s Tennis has ever had. We have never reached 11 wins or beaten USM and Castleton (our biggest rival) twice in the same season. We finished second in the regular season and second in the playoffs. And, we did it all with four starting freshmen and no seniors, which is even more remarkable. Our team really started coming together in South Carolina in March. The future looks bright moving forward.”
*This was originally published in the Spring 2017 Thomas Magazine.