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Thursday, May 29, 2014

As teammates, six Wilton-Lyndeborough tennis players failed

Joe Marchilena

When you spend a lot of time around high school athletics, and see what goes on behind the scenes with coaches, kids, parents and everyone else involved, you learn that sports are about so much more than … well, sports.

High school sports are as much about life lessons, and a lot of times, that stuff is just as important to growing up as anything taught in the classroom. ...

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When you spend a lot of time around high school athletics, and see what goes on behind the scenes with coaches, kids, parents and everyone else involved, you learn that sports are about so much more than … well, sports.

High school sports are as much about life lessons, and a lot of times, that stuff is just as important to growing up as anything taught in the classroom.

There are lessons to be learned from the positives, like winning a game or a championship. In most cases, it takes a lot of work to be successful, and it typically means having to work well with others.

And there are lessons to be learned from the negatives.

There are four underclassmen at Wilton-Lyndeborough High School who unfortunately had to learn from the negative Tuesday, and six seniors who you hope have taken something away from that same experience.

After missing out on the Division III playoffs last year, the Warriors boys tennis team finished the regular season with a record of 9-5 and earned the sixth seed in this year’s playoffs.

That meant a quarterfinal match against third-seeded Kingswood, which is located in Wolfeboro, more than 90 minutes away. On a bus, it’s probably closer to a two-hour drive.

Not an idle trip, but, hey, it’s a playoff match. And although the Knights were 12-2 this year, they didn’t play the Warriors in the regular season. Who knows what could have happened?

But Tuesday wasn’t just the start of the boys tennis playoffs. It was also WLC’s senior skip day, and do I really need to tell you what happened?

Brice Miller, the WLC athletic director, knew this and warned the skipping six last Friday that if they weren’t in school Tuesday, they weren’t going to be able to play. They went so far as to ask him to reschedule the match, which of course wasn’t possible and wasn’t an option, rightfully so.

So the four underclassmen joined coach John Williams for a long bus ride up to Wolfeboro, and without their Nos. 1, 2 and 5 players, the Warriors had to forfeit two singles and a double match. They were down 3-0 before even getting off the bus.

I have no idea how Williams felt – an attempt to reach him was unsuccessful – but I know that if it were me, I’d be furious at the players and a little bit embarrassed. Kingswood was expecting a challenging playoff match, and instead got a cakewalk. The official score is listed as 9-0, but the two doubles matches that could have been played weren’t, at the request of the Warriors.

If I were any of the four underclassmen, it would take me a while to have a civil conversation with any of my six supposed teammates.

There are moments when teenagers should be allowed to be what they are – high school kids – but the day of a playoff match isn’t one of those times. When you commit to a team, you assume a responsibility that goes beyond being just a kid.

Miller said Tuesday he thought the seniors “just wanted to have a four-day weekend,” and hopefully, they did something epic with their time off.

Otherwise, the skipping six just wasted their last chance to represent their school and play a sport they presumably like one more time. And let’s not forget, they let their teammates down.

Yeah, you’ve got to hope senior skip day was really worth it.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).