MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury Union High School dipped into the ranks of its alumni to find a new boys’ tennis coach, tapping 2009 graduate and Weybridge resident Andy Killorin to lead the team this spring.
Killorin, 23, played four years for the Tiger team while at MUHS and has not put his racquet down since: Rated as a 4.0 level player by the United States Tennis Association, he plays in a doubles league as well as in regular singles matches.
Killorin, who replaces local tennis pro Franz Collas, said that experience, as well as playing recreationally while earning his degree in electrical engineering from the University of Vermont, has made him a better player.
“I played singles all through high school, but in the past year, year-and-a-half or so, I’ve been getting more doubles,” he said. “Being a good singles player helps your doubles, and being a good doubles player helps your singles.”
Killorin also brings some coaching experience: He helped run youth clinics for the Middlebury and Vergennes recreation programs, and taught all ages during summers at the Basin Harbor Club.
Along the way, Killorin discovered he enjoyed it.
“I really like teaching, being the coach, being the mentor,” Killorin said. “It’s really fun and it’s really satisfying, too. I’ve played the sport since I could walk, like 5 or 6 was the first time I took a lesson. I also watch tennis religiously, too, so I’ve taken a lot in, so it’s really nice to share knowledge with other people.”
Given that it was not so long ago he played for MUHS, Killorin believes he understands what the Tigers need to do to improve.
“I know I can help them out and point them in the right direction to get better,” he said.
MUHS activities director Sean Farrell said he was happy Killorin agreed to take over after Collas helped grow the team over the past few years.
“The reason he appealed to me is he grew up in this program,” Farrell said, adding that Killorin “has continued his tennis since he left here.”
Farrell said that Killorin has shown quickly that he has the necessary organizational skills, and Farrell is confident that the new coach will also do well on the court.
“He is very responsible, and he’ll do a good job working with the kids,” Farrell said. “It’s been fun to get to know him in a different light.”
Killorin takes over a team that is two years into a rebuilding cycle that he believes is just about ready to reap dividends.
“We’re starting to fill out a little bit. I have a very strong junior class,” he said. “And I have a lot of strong sophomores as well. They’re coming into their own.”
The 13 upperclassmen and sophomores are being joined by a half-dozen freshmen to make this year’s team one of the largest in program history, something Killorin calls an encouraging development.
“I’ve got six people coming in, too,” he said. “So I’m in a nice little transition period.”
Killorin — with occasional help from former teammate Aaron Crystal and friend David Gold — will try to teach all the Tigers the versatility he believes he has learned playing both singles and doubles and the greater discipline he has added to his game since leaving MUHS.
Killorin described that discipline as remembering the proper footwork and “being able to work the point, being patient and waiting for the opportunity.”
In his first week with his players, the Tigers impressed Killorin with their attitude as well as ability.
“I really like the guys. It’s a great group,” he said.
Killorin also hopes to increase their appreciation for the sport.
“I want people to fall in love with the sport. That’s my other job,” he said.
And he is optimistic about their prospects, even knowing after a Division II campaign they must compete in the D-I playoffs.
“If we take care of our business during the regular season, I think we can get a good shot at our first-round match in the playoffs. That’s our goal,” Killorin said.
Whether he can stick with the program long-term depends on his career path. When Farrell approached him, Killorin found himself between jobs, and he has applications out now.
“I would love to be around,” he said. “But with the degree it’s hard to find a job around here. We’ll see what company wants to take a flyer on me.”
Meanwhile, Farrell’s work is not done: MUHS still needs help with its track and field program. Ed Blechner remains on board to assist with the field events, but Farrell is still looking for one or two coaches to lead the program.
Former MUHS athlete Cresent Remaniak has volunteered, but Farrell said at some point in May Remaniak has to leave for work reasons. Farrell is hoping either a long-term candidate will emerge, or that a local resident now at college will step up when he or she is back home and see the program through to the end of the season.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]
MUHS GRADUATE ANDY Killorin is the new coach of the Tiger boys' tennis squad.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell