For the Bates College men's tennis team, 2001 was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Three members of the 2000 NESCAC runners-up were not returning, including the conference champ at No. 6 singles. Coach Paul Gastonguay and the Bobcats took the changes in stride, however, finishing the regular season with a 9-3 dual match record and third place in the NESCAC. Bates' dual match schedule featured wins over the likes of conference foes Amherst, Colby, Middlebury and Tufts, as well as regionally-ranked non-conference foes from Skidmore and The College of New Jersey.
The team was rewarded for its efforts with a second-straight trip to the NCAA Division III tournament, while Gastonguay was named NESCAC Coach of the Year. No. 1 player Alex MacDonald '03 (Bridgewater, Conn.), who went 19-9 on the season, including 11-1 in the fall, became the first Bates player in six years selected to the NCAA individual tournament. The team's top overall record belonged to Ben Lamanna '02, who went 15-1 and reached the finals of the No. 5 flight at NESCACs. Four of the Bobcats' six singles players return in 2002 with the hopes of a third-straight postseason bid.
Tennis success at Bates is nothing new. Bud Schultz '81, the College's first tennis All-American, went on to become one of the world's top-40 players. Schultz led his team at Bates to a third-place finish at the NCAA team tournament. Gastonguay followed Schultz's lead and became world-ranked in singles and doubles. The 2000 and 2001 teams joined the 1996 squad that holds the single-season record for wins as NCAA tournament participants.
Men's tennis at Bates has a tradition of success. As a player and coach, Paul Gastonguay has built on the fundamentals that were instilled in him while he was a student-athlete at Bates. Sportsmanship and respect are the two most important aspects of any Bates team. Every player on the squad shows respect for himself, his teammates and his opponents by never giving up, no matter how difficult the situation. From this respect comes dedication and teamwork. Bates players must be prepared mentally and physically for every practice and every match. Win or lose, the Bobcats "leave everything on the court," according to Gastonguay. A strong mental game and sportsmanship are inseparable. Bates tennis players learn from each situation and build on positive play and strategies. They have pride in their preparation, work ethic and hustle. Every player succeeds when this approach is taken, because selflessness breeds success. Though not always victorious, the team will be in a position to win every match.
With the addition of eight brand new courts over the summer of 1999, Bates tennis facilities are among the best in New England. Built in memory of the late College trustee James G. Wallach '64, each of the courts features tournament-quality lighting, Plexi-Cushion hard court surface and stadium seating for up to 300 spectators. Six of the courts are within the vantage point of a 25-foot-high tennis house with a viewing deck and tournament desk for the coaching staff. In addition, Merrill Gymnasium is situated right next door to the new facility. Merrill houses four indoor courts, allowing 12 courts to be used simultaneously for tournaments.
Paul Gastonguay '89 (email@example.com), the winningest tennis
player in Bates College history, amassed a combined record of 149-41 in his
four-year playing career. He set three of the top four single-season marks
in school history and became the Bobcats' second-ever All-American in tennis
in his senior season, during which he was a finalist for the NCAA Arthur Ashe
Award. Gastonguay competed professionally in International Tennis Federation
Satellite, Challenger and ATP Tour events, where he achieved world rankings
in singles and doubles. He served as a practice partner for former ATP Tour
top ranked player, Ivan Lendl, during the last four years of his career.