The Gilman tennis team lost six of its top seven players from a 2015 squad that repeated as Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference team champs.
That created a challenge for Greyhounds' coach Steve Krulevitz.
He simply inserted freshman Noah Jun (No. 2) and sophomore Will Rende (No. 3) into singles spots and promoted four players from last year's junior varsity, senior Tyler Pante and junior Nate Shaw (No. 1) and sophomore Lee Sherline and junior Sam Sobkov (No. 2), into doubles positions.
And Gilman kept right on rolling.
But Krulevitz had his doubts whether they would continue to be that good a team this spring.
"We figured, 'Wow, this is going to be rough,'" the coach explained. "I talked to coaches from California, New York and Pennsylvania and they have all been there. They say, 'When you lose that many players, you are not looking to win titles. You are rebuilding.'"
In the end, however, Gilman kept winning. The Greyhounds captured their third straight team championship by edging Loyola Blakefield, 3-2.
That made Gilman the first team in league's 21-year history to capture three straight titles.
"It's very hard to win three in a row," Krulevitz said. "For the simple reason that guys graduate and your team gets depleted. Even with all the great teams since the MIAA was formed — McDonogh, Gilman, Mount Saint Joe — no one did it."
Gilman's E.J. Abass captured a championship at No. 1 singles, Rende won at No. 3 while Shaw and Pantle prevailed at No. 1 doubles.
Rene clinched the team crown, outlasting the Dons' junior Grayson White, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4).
"I call it the three-day epic match," Krulevitz said. "The match was postponed at three-all in the last set because of darkness on a Friday. They came back and finished it on Sunday. There was a tremendous amount of pressure. You don't sleep that well and they had two days to think it over."
In the MIAA individual tournament, Abass, won at No. 1 singles, cruising past Mount St. Joe senior Pat McLean, 6-2, 6-0.
Abass went a perfect 24-0 and garnered titles at No. 2 singles last year and No. 1 doubles as a sophomore.
"I had no reason to doubt he was going to win the number one singles because he's just had that kind of career," Krulevitz said of Abass, who competed for his school at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March on a relay team.
Shaw and Pantle won the No. 1 doubles title in the individual tournament.