“As captains, we keep the young players at ease,” said Orencole. “We don’t go our hardest at them at certain points because we don’t want to scare them away from the sport. But I think the group is really fun to be around. It’s not really too hard on kids.”
Kirkpatrick, for his part, likes what he sees in newcomers including junior Brendan Crowther and sophomores Cobo Alvarez de Toledo Schlanger, Jake Shactman and Sebastien Basson.
“We’ve got a good up-and-coming athletic group of kids,” said Kirkpatrick. “They can bring us to a good season this year.”
The Clippers advanced to the second round of the tournament two years ago, but missed tournament play last season with a 4-10 record. Orencole’s doubles partner, senior Henry Jacqz, sees those newcomers as a big part of Newburyport returning to tournament action this year.
“It’s a really good group of kids,” said Jacqz. “Kids are getting better very quickly and we’re feeding off each other’s energy, and I think, as the season progresses, we’re going to keep getting better and better. By the time it’s tournament season, we’re going to be better than we are now and we have some skill now.”
One sophomore Orencole sees good things in James Kipp.
“He’s caught my eye the most out of any player,” Orencole said. “He’s improved so much, and I think he may be more of a key player than Chris Kirkpatrick. If he plays well, then we’re going to make the state tournament. We’re just looking for that third guy to get us over the edge, and I think he can do it easily. He’s kind of the future of the team just a couple of years down the road.”
That road begins April 8 when the Clippers host Amesbury.
“We should just build upon what we did last year and try to make it better,” said Kirkpatrick. “Maybe hit .500 and make it to the tournament. We need to come together as a team and just pull out wins.”