By Tony Blasi, Sports Editor
AUBURN — This is another one of those tennis teams where Mt. Blue coach Zac Conlogue can sit back, relax and enjoy the show as his Cougars (6-3) race toward another playoff appearance.
The Mt. Blue boys’ tennis team has now won five in a row after dismissing Edward Little with a 5-0 victory on Monday.
“We are very deep and I think that’s why we have been very successful,” Conlogue, a fifth-year coach, said. There really isn’t a huge difference between one and seven in our lineup and even eight, nine and 10 aren’t that far away from them.
“We are just so they get pushed each practice and constantly challenging each other to improve so I think that’s why.”
He said two years ago, Conlogue was coaching a team that was deeper than the Cougars this season.
“I think team even second doubles is better than that season,” he said. “That team had a top power. We don’t have the star power, but we are very, very deep.
“So we can win at all five positions on any given day, which is very helpful.
“Depth and they are great kids on and off the court. They are very smart. They stay out of trouble. They like each other. They make things so very easy.”
The really good news is the Cougars are a young team featuring only two seniors.
“We lost six kids from last year’s team so I wouldn’t say we are not freshmen and sophomores but we are mostly juniors, a sophomore and two seniors in the starting lineup,” Conlogue said. “We are fairly young a little inexperienced.
“So that’s why those first few games is getting the jitters out. We kind of figured things out.”
At this point, the Cougars are getting a lot of help from their second doubles team — Nick Gurney and Aubrey Hoes.
“They are 7-0 this year,” Conlogue said. “We know we are going to get the point from them and we just have to figure out where we are going to get the next two from.
“So those are our two big ones. They are young, never started before this year — a big improvement for us this year. One is a sophomore, one’s a junior.”
To give how far this doubles team has come up in the world, Conlogue wasn’t sure if Gurney and Hoes would star this season.
“They hopped in and they are playing very well,” Conlogue said. “We have two of our other guys who made the Round of 48 as well.
“Our second and third singles — Joe Crandall and Chris Marshall both qualified.”
Another shining day in the sun
The Edward Little Red Eddies (0-7) lost a handful of talent to graduation last season — and the Cougars took advantage of that Monday.
In the singles matches, Alden Thompson-Vought beat Logan Alexander, 6-2, 6-0, Crandall defeated Caleb Yarnevich 6-3, 6-1 and Chris Marshall dismissed Josh Hamel, 6-0, 6-0.
The Cougars were equally impressive in the the doubles competition.
Mt. Blue’s Zack Gunther and Ryan Hasko shook off Nate McBride and Dylan Campbell, 6-4, 6-1. Gurney and Hoes dropped Keegan Rodrigue and Kayden Kirouac 6-0, 6-0.
“(This match) gives you a chance to work on a number of things,” Conlogue said. “They are a younger team. They lost six of their starters from last year.
“EL gave a good fight out there so that’s good. We treat every game the same. We try to play the best game we can, work on a few things and try to get better.”
EL coach Greg Vincent knew the Cougars are a top-notch team and his Red Eddies were in for a rough ride Monday.
“They have good up and down and a lot of depth,” Vincent said. “Singles players are pretty consistent. They came out here and played tough and they won it.”