The Camden Hills Regional High School boys tennis team hopes to bounce back this season with what appears a spring-fresh start. After a 13-3 season and an Eastern Class B title in 2010, the Windjammers lost all but a few of their starting seven players to graduation.

That stated, according to veteran Camden Hills coach Chris Walker-Spencer, the Windjammers will be solid, they simply have to figure out who they are.

“It’s an extremely athletic team,” the coach said. “It’s a team that’s hard working but also a team that is very much trying to find itself both technique-wise and in terms of their learning how to compete in their current roles.”

The team includes seniors Tyler Coleman and Matthew Maxwell; juniors Evan Drinkwater (who will play second singles), Max Fischer, Devon Gordon, Henry Owen, Sam Predham, Tucker van Dusen and John Vannorsdall (first singles); sophomores Will Conover, Issac Hirshfeld (third singles), Evan Neilson, and Eddie Socker; and freshman Lei Huang. While the singles players appear set, the doubles pairings are up in the air and could include a number of combinations.

The Windjammers lost Will Vlautin, Pierre Haugen, Casey Scott, Tom Young and Andrew Beauchesne to graduation.

With four returners and no one in the same spot as last year, coach Walker-Spencer has his work cut out for him.

“Everyone has to find their way and figure out their role,” he said. “That’s my job. That’s where I come in and we’ll see how good of a job I do.”

That shouldn’t be a Herculean task since the coach said he enjoys and prides himself on instructing the young athletes and “essentially how to compete effectively in what is a very mentally challenging sport; [a] physically and mentally taxing sport.”

However, Vannorsdall and Drinkwater, last year’s first doubles team, return as the first and second singles players. Thanks to off-season play they have come back strong.

“They have improved their games dramatically, which is wonderful,” Walker-Spencer said. “It has been every coach’s dream to have a player leave at the end of your season and then see them again next season and they have taken a major step forward in their game.”

That does not mean either youngster is perfect. Much like any athlete on any team, these two can improve.

“[Vannorsdall and Drinkwater] still have room to grow like everyone who is not number one in the world,” the coach said. “There is always room to grow your game.”

Overall, the singles players are a well-matched bunch.

“One of the great things about our singles players is that they have all been able to beat each other,” the coach said. “They are very evenly-matched. Right now, Isaac is playing three and we will continue to do challenge matches and we will see how our ladder evolves throughout the season.”

The doubles team is in even more flux.

“It’s a good thing as a coach to have that kind of depth and it’s probably a bit of a frustration as a player,” he said, adding that the athletes are competitively trying to get into the four spots.

To the coach, that is a good sign.

“I want players that want to play. I want them to be disappointed if they don’t play,” he said. “You want players that want to get out there and compete and I think we have that. I can see the kids working hard to try and improve their game and get out.”

Looking ahead, Walker-Spencer made it clear that expectations and goals are two different things.

“Our goal every year is to compete for a state championship,” Walker-Spencer said. “In terms of expectations. I kind of stopped playing that game a while ago because I didn’t have the expectation we’d finish runners-up in the state last year and yet we did.”

He wants to leave the future up in the air.

“Could this team come together and surprise me? They could,” Walker-Spencer said. “That would depend a lot on how effective I am as a coach and how willing they are to listen, learn and trust themselves.”

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at fritz@villagesoup.com.