Berkshire County will be short another tennis team this spring.
The Drury athletic department has decided to eliminate the Drury and Hoosac Valley cooperative program due to continuously low numbers.
Both the boys and girls teams struggled to field teams last season. It was decided the interest was not there to fill either team's roster this spring.
The program lost four players to graduation last season. Coach Rob Colantuono had also made the decision not to return to the program.
"Ultimately, it came down to our low numbers," Drury Athletic Director Molly Meczywor said. "We were a small program anyway last year. We did a co-op with Hoosac and lost a lot of those players this year. It just didn't seem beneficial this year."
Drury is the third school in the past 15 years to drop the sport. Hoosac's program was cut before the 1998 season. Wahconah ducked out of the league prior to the 2011 season. McCann Tech also participated in the Drury tennis co-op in recent seasons.
"I know personally, I was really looking forward to playing in the spring," Hoosac Valley sophomore Claudia Fortier said. "I was very disappointed to hear the news."
The Drury athletic department looked into possibly recruiting Wahconah to join the co-op, but it was determined the interest was not there.
The girls' team featured six players and the boys team had just four last season. Six players are needed to field a complete team for each gender. The school was not confidient the roster would be filled this season.
The numbers haven't always been that low. Former coach Whitney Suters, who left the program in 2010, said he used to have anywhere from 25 to 35 students attend tryouts.
"Honestly, when I left, the boys had made Western Mass. and the girls were 9-8, I think," Suters said. "I thought [the program] was in pretty good shape, the girls' team especially. I knew the boys team needed a little rebuilding, but that happens in all sports."
The girls qualified for the tournament as recently as 2011.
The Blue Devil girls finished last season with a record of 1-11. The boys completed the year with a record of 0-12.
"We may not have been the best team in the county, but we all had a lot of fun playing," said Fortier, who played tennis for the first time last spring. "It was just fun playing and just being on the courts, I learned a lot."
Fortier does not play any other sports and is not planning on picking up a spring sport.
One of the biggest reasons the program has low numbers is the lack of a feeder program. There is no youth tennis program in North Adams, according to Meczywor. While youth programs like football, soccer, basketball and little league are continuing to grow, tennis is struggling. Suters said there are talks about forming a club for high school aged tennis players in case the program is revitalized in the future.
The subtraction of the Drury program now leaves seven Berkshire County tennis teams.
"Obviously, you want as many teams on your schedule as you can," Mount Greylock girls coach John Jacobbe said. "It's a chance for two less matches in the league, so unless you get independent matches you'll have less matches than the other tournament teams, that can hurt [Western Mass. seedings].
"I know the Drury girls made the tournament a few years ago, and every match was a challenge. It just hurts to not have as many teams in your league."
It is unclear if the termination of the program is permanent. Colantuono took over as coach to help keep the teams going for a year or two, he could not be reached for comment.
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