After a four-year hiatus from the postseason the Chariho boys tennis team made its return to the playoffs last season after finishing the regular season 8-8 in the Division II.
The Chargers were swept by Classical in the first round but with that experience and a veteran roster in tow Chariho is hoping to take the next step this season.
“Everybody definitely improved over the winter,” senior captain Nick Brocato says. “A lot of our tougher opponents from last year moved up so I’m hoping to at least make playoffs this year.”
As it has been with most sports, the RIIL shuffled the deck in boys tennis this spring giving Chariho a new set of obstacles.
Cranston West and East Greenwich – the D-II finalists from a season ago – have been bumped up to Division I along with Ponaganset, while Toll Gate and Mount St. Charles have dropped down from D-I.
Shea and Providence Country Day have dropped down to D-III, while D-III champion Middletown, D-III North regular season winner Burrillville and Scituate have taken their places in D-II.
The realignment should mean that Chariho should not only be a playoff team but in the mix for a deep playoff run as well.
“I definitely think we’re going to have some good momentum this season,” Chariho coach Lindsay Bliven says, “and we’re very deep.”
No. 1 Mike Gilligan – who graduated last spring – is a significant loss for the Chargers but not an insurmountable one.
Junior Will Masse, Brocato and junior Zach Wollenberg each played singles last season and will occupy spots one through three, respectively, on the ladder.
So far Bliven has been impressed with sophomore Jason Darminin, who will start the season at No. 4 singles.
As for the doubles teams, sophomores Nick Lecours and Chandler Scott are starting the year at No. 1, seniors Nathan Lukas and Alex Ali are at No. 2 and seniors Tyler Amaral and Mitchell Newman round out the field at No. 3.
The Chargers certainly got off to the type of start they hoped for – albeit against a weak Pilgrim team – with a 6-1 victory Tuesday.
Last season Brocato – who also played No. 2 singles last spring – went six matches before securing his first victory but this time around he got off on the right foot with a 7-5, 6-1 win in the opener.
Wollenberg and Darminin rolled, 6-1, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-0, respectively, while Scott and Lecours romped to a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
Masse – who is making the jump from No. 3 to No. 1 singles this season – played well but suffered a 6-2, 6-4 defeat. Pilgrim forfeited both No. 2 and 3 doubles.
The Chargers will be back in action today when they travel to take on Burrillville at 4 p.m.