fb-pixel Skip to main content
HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS NOTEBOOK

For longtime Somerset Berkley boys’ tennis coach Doug Chapman, winning is par for the course

Somerset Berkley boys' tennis coach Doug Chapman earned his 600th career victory with the program earlier this season.DebeeTlumacki

Ever since his father took him to his first tennis match at Wimbledon during a 1972 family vacation to Europe, Doug Chapman has been all tennis, all the time.

Despite growing up in a family of golfers, Chapman gave all his attention to tennis.

“My father has always been a really good golfer and my mother golfs,” Chapman said. “My brother [Drew] is a golf pro — he runs the First Tee program for the Mass Golf Association. So, my rebellion growing up was that I chose tennis instead of golf.

“My father used to say to me, ‘You don’t have to cut the grass today if you go play golf,’ and it got to the point I’d say, ‘No, I think I’d rather cut the grass and then go play tennis.’”

Advertisement



Chapman joined Somerset High’s tennis team as a freshman when the school launched a program in 1973 and never looked back. After his four-year high school career and playing for Boston University as a freshman, Chapman returned to his alma mater and took the reins as coach as a 19-year-old college sophomore.

He never left.

Chapman celebrated yet another major milestone achievement April 4 when his Somerset Berkley boys’ team earned a 5-0 season-opening victory over Durfee, marking Chapman’s 600th career victory during his 44-year career as Somerset/Somerset Berkley’s coach.

The celebration continued the next day, when the Raiders earned a 3-2 win over Case. It was Chapman’s 700th all-time victory as a coach, combining his 601 as a high school coach with 99 more wins as the coach for the UMass Dartmouth women’s team — which he has coached since 2013 — as well as past coaching stops at Roger Williams and Bridgewater State.

Doug Chapman has led the Somerset Berkley boys' tennis program to 10 league titles.DebeeTlumacki

He’s come a long way since Somerset’s administrators showed some trepidation in hiring him at 19.

Advertisement



“The principal and athletic director asked me how long I thought I’d be coaching and I said, ‘Well, hopefully I can do it for about 20 years,’” said the 63-year-old Chapman, a three-time National High School Coach of the Year recipient. “I remember Dick Mahoney, who was the athletic director, laughed when he heard that and said, ‘Well, we hope you’re still coaching when you get out of college.’”

Chapman’s Somerset Berkley teams have collected 10 league titles and advanced to the postseason 36 times. Ask Somerset Berkley senior co-captain Tom Rose about Chapman and he’ll tell you the Bay State’s all-time winningest high school tennis coach’s impact is hardly limited to the court.

“A lot of the things you learn about tennis from coach Chapman extend to outside of school in your own life,” Rose said. “Even with the determination and compassion he shows with tennis, it shows you how to have goals in real life, too. As much as he helped me in tennis, I feel like he’s done the same with my own life outside of it.”

Nate Eleuterio, a 2005 graduate of Somerset High, is still teaching the lessons he learned from Chapman as the coach for the defending South Coast Conference champion Apponequet boys’ team.

“I don’t come from a huge tennis background, so everything he taught me is basically everything I know about tennis,” said Eleuterio, who on May 7 will be inducted into Somerset Berkley’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “I use the same words, the same positioning and the same strategy and it seems to be working.”

Advertisement



Chapman’s other confidants are also quick to praise his passion and love for the game.

“It’s a cliché to say you’ve got to love what you do, but he really loves it,” said Peter Holt, Somerset Berkley’s girls’ coach who also assists Chapman at UMass Dartmouth. “I know he likes tennis a lot, but he loves the coaching thing so much. He thinks about it so much and he really does connect with the players.”

Doug Chapman also coaches at UMass Dartmouth, giving him more than 700 combined career victories.DebeeTlumacki

It didn’t take UMass Dartmouth junior co-captain McKenzie Ferrari long to recognize Chapman’s love for the sport. Ferrari’s first full day of college was a day trip to the US Open with Chapman and the rest of the tennis team.

Ferrari, a Tewsksbury native, said Chapman was the driving force that got women’s tennis reinstated at UMD in May 2021 after the program was included in a series of athletic department cuts in July 2020.

“He was the main reason we were able to be brought back,” Ferrari said. “To me, [the tennis program] was my first community on campus. It’s a great community and to be able to get that community back for my last two years has been awesome.”

Chapman’s tennis influence isn’t limited to coaching. He serves as the President and CEO of USTA Rhode Island and as a member of the USTA New England Board of Directors executive committee. He’s also a Professional Tennis Registry-certified professional who has worked as a USTA national coaches trainer and as a certified official.

Advertisement



“His passion for the game is unmatched,” Holt said, “but his driving force isn’t the game, his driving force is the people — he’s all about the players.”

Chapman is still looking forward, too. He embraces tennis as an evolving sport and is happy to keep pace with the changes.

“You’ve got to adjust with the game,” Chapman said. “The game doesn’t stand still, so you can’t either.”

Somerset Berkley boys' tennis players have had plenty of reason to applaud their longtime coach, Doug Chapman, already this season.DebeeTlumacki

Extra serves

▪ In light of the MIAA’s decision to not hold boys’ and girls’ individual state tournaments for a third consecutive year, the South Coast Conference will host its own singles and doubles tournaments this spring.

The girls’ tournament will be held at Wareham on May 7-8, and the boys will play at Somerset Berkley May 14-15.

“We’re going to run it just like the MIAA does — any team can send three singles players and two doubles teams,” Chapman said. “Any of the kids that participate are going to get a tournament T-shirt and we’ll have awards for the champion and finalists and stuff.”

Added Wareham girls’ coach Geoff Swett, “I applaud the SCC for taking the initiative. Unfortunately, one of the attractions of the MIAA tournament is getting to play people you’ve never seen all year. I’m happy to be a part of it, but it’s not going to be as meaningful as if they were playing in the statewide tournament.”

▪ Numerous injuries and COVID-19 protocols have forced Martha’s Vineyard girls’ coach Bill Rigali to shake up his lineup this spring. Despite utilizing a rotating cast of players, the Vineyarders have been the class of the Cape & Islands League and are off to a 5-0 start.

Advertisement



“We’re fortunate that we have six starters back from a good team from last year,” Rigali said. “That was a strong point going in, but surprisingly in our five matches, we’ve had to use 12 different girls in the varsity lineup due to injuries and some COVID protocols and things. That’s been a surprise but it’s been good for the kids that would normally be just practicing and playing exhibition matches.”

The Vineyarders have been anchored by first singles player Cali Giglio, a junior who has amassed a 19-1 record the past two seasons. Rigali said he’s been most surprised by the leap Giglio has made as a leader.

“She’s stepped up,” Rigali said. “She was kind of quiet as a sophomore, but she performed very well. Last year, she played tennis. This year, she’s playing tennis but she’s also vocal with the team and being a good leader.”