April 22, 2013

High School Tennis Preview: His schedule is packed, but still time for tennis

Matt Gilman, who keeps busy on and off the court, hopes to lead Cape Elizabeth to a state title.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH - Matt Gilman was scrambling. Not from sideline to sideline, baseline to net, as he does in a particularly challenging tennis match.

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Matt Gilman is in his fourth season as the No. 1 singles player for Cape Elizabeth and reached the state singles semifinals each of the past two years.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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No, Gilman was scrambling to fit everything in before April vacation from school.

Monday, there was a scrimmage with Scarborough. Tuesday, he competed in the state math meet in Bangor. Wednesday, he drove to New Haven, Conn., for an overnight orientation session for students planning to enroll at Yale University, where he sat in on a few lectures involving international economics.

A quick interview? Sure, he could squeeze it in Thursday night after returning from Connecticut and trying to pack for an early Friday morning departure to Hilton Head, S.C., for a week at the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy with the rest of the Cape Elizabeth boys' team.

Oddly enough, Gilman says this is the most relaxing spring of his high school career.

"I had been focusing a lot on school the last two years," he said. "But this year I've been able to play more tennis and work out more, which has been so nice, really relaxing."

Gilman has played No. 1 singles for Cape Elizabeth since his freshman year, when the Capers -- seeded fifth in Western Maine -- rolled to the Class B state championship without losing an individual match in the postseason.

In each of the next two seasons, Cape Elizabeth fell to eventual state champion Falmouth in the regional finals, 3-2 in 2011 and 4-1 in 2012. They will meet for the only time in the regular season this Friday, but without two-time singles runner-up Justin Brogan, a Falmouth junior who opted for USTA play over high school this year.

"I was kind of disappointed when I heard that," said Gilman, who beat Brogan in the regular season but lost in the singles semifinals and team tournament last spring. "It's certainly helpful for us in terms of winning, but I'd much rather have our team have to beat a fully-stocked Falmouth team. I feel like it would be much more rewarding that way, for sure."

Cape Elizabeth returns its top seven players from last spring, when fellow senior Satchel McCarthy played second singles and either senior Sam Sherman or sophomore Luke Gilman -- Matt's brother -- played third singles. Senior Harper Chalet and juniors Eli Breed and Gavin Cottrell played doubles.

In addition, the Capers picked up two more potential singles players: freshman Michael Mills and junior Peter Higgins, who lives in South Portland and played at Cheverus. It was Gilman who suggested Higgins apply for a waiver to enroll at Cape Elizabeth.

"Having that much depth is definitely a strength," Gilman said, "because we can compound on that strength by practicing with each other. But at the same time, the hope is that the people who are playing at the bottom of the lineup don't get frustrated."

Gilman is in his second year as a team captain. The only other high school sport he plays is golf, although he played basketball in middle school before concentrating on tennis year-round.

At Yale, which accepted him in December, Gilman may attempt to walk on to a tennis team ranked among the top 50 in the country. Or, he may simply walk away from tennis and pick up a club sport such as hockey, lacrosse or soccer.

"It's pretty rare for a player of my level to be able to make their team at all," Gilman said, "but we'll see how it works out."

He has other interests, particularly in the field of international development. He participates in the Model United Nations program, and last year won a statewide essay competition sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace, which brings the 50 state winners to Washington D.C. for five days in June.

"I got to meet both our senators and (Rep.) Chellie Pingree," Gilman said. "I also met the Egyptian ambassador, which was pretty cool."

Gilman is one of six Maine finalists for the U.S. Presidential Scholarship program. One boy and one girl from each state are chosen, and four of Maine's finalists are girls.

Gilman's essay topic for that one? Playing tennis with Luke and the changing relationship between the brothers as they grew up. If selected, Gilman would once more return to Washington.

That decision will come in early May. The singles semifinals and finals are in late May -- Gilman is a two-time semifinalist -- followed quickly by the team tournament.

"I think," Gilman said, "we've got a good chance."

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

 

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