2013-06-14 / People

Neighbors

Coach celebrates 14th state title
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Andy Strout Andy Strout Andy Strout has coached in Cape Elizabeth for 35 years.

He won 10 state titles during his tenure as the head coach of the girls’ tennis team. He won eight boys’ soccer titles in nearly three decades involved with the program as a head coach and assistant coach. Then Saturday, June 8, he earned his 14th title as head coach of the boys’ tennis team, giving him a title for nearly every year he has coached.

The Cape Elizabeth boys’ tennis team swept Mount Desert Island 5-0 to finish off its undefeated 2013 season with a state title. The Capers tore through four postseason matches without any of their three singles players or two doubles teams suffering a loss.

Even after more than three decades in coaching and dozens of titles, Strout said the excitement doesn’t wear off from year to year.

“You still don’t sleep at night before the big matches. You still worry about all those little things: have you done enough to get them to where they need to be in these big matches?” said Strout, who now is an assistant coach for the girls’ soccer team and a physical education teacher in the middle school, in addition to his position as head coach for boys’ tennis.

“All those pieces come together and it works out for the best. Then you get to sleep well for a couple nights and the next challenge comes along.”

This year’s title-winning team was anchored in the playoffs by three singles players who will not return next season. Seniors Matt Gilman and Satchel McCarthy will move on to college, and junior Peter Higgins has used all his varsity eligibility after changing schools in Maine and Massachusetts.

Although next year’s team will feature new players in new roles, Strout said he’s confident about the future because the strength of this year’s undefeated team was its depth.

“We were so good from top to bottom. There was not much of a drop off anywhere in there. That’s what made this one as special as it was. One through seven, they’re all very compatible with each other,” Strout said.

Because of that depth, Strout said his biggest challenge this year was finding a role for so many strong players while still keeping everyone happy. He said freshman Mike Mills was good enough to play singles this season, but ended up pairing with senior Sam Sherman in doubles because of the talent around the rest of the roster.

“(Mills) held it in check. He is a singles player. He plays New England circuits, he plays at a high level, but I had two seniors and a junior that played above him that have been there, done that. He learned some good stuff from us that is going to help us down the road,” Strout said.

As has been the case for most of Strout’s career, the Falmouth boys’ tennis team provided the toughest test for Cape Elizabeth over the course of the season. The Yachtsmen finished the year 14-1, with their only regular-season loss coming to the Capers in the second week of the season. Cape Elizabeth then defeated Falmouth again in the playoffs in the Western Maine Class B semifinals.

For six of the last eight seasons, Cape Elizabeth’s boys’ tennis season has ended with a loss to Falmouth. In the other two, 2010 and this season, the Capers finished as state champions. Strout said although the two programs have a history of intensely competitive postseason matches, many of the players on both teams train together and know each other off the court.

“They’re a rival, but they’re also a friend,” Strout said.

Over the summer, Strout will focus on working on the farmhouse he owns on Fowler Road with his wife, Kelly. Shady Oak Farm is a boarding and riding facility for horses with an indoor riding facility and day camps overseen by Kelly that run through summer. The run to the state title in tennis was fun, Strout joked, but summer is when his real work beings.

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