Tim Gillespie, tennis coach at Pepperell High, earned his 400th win with a sweep from both his girls and boys teams against Rockmart on Tuesday. Gillespie has coached Pepperell's girls team for the past 22 years, and he took on double duty coaching the boys team 14 years ago. “I think the most gratifying thing to me, even more so than the number of wins, is the overall tennis program we have built at PHS.” Gillespie said. “Not only is tennis a sport my student athletes can play for the rest of their lives, but it is also an extension of their education.” Gillespie sees tennis as an opportunity to teach life lessons and help teenagers to develop into young men and women. “I have used tennis to teach teamwork, respect for others, sportsmanship, integrity, and work ethic,” Gillespie added. “It is more gratifying to me to see my former players apply those lessons to become successful in the ventures they choose once they leave the program.”
Pepperell tennis was not accustomed to success when Gillespie took over the girls team in 1993, as they had not won a match in two seasons. Gillespie reminisced about his first ever victory after the girls win on Tuesday pushed him over the 400 mark. “In 1993, we started the season 0-3 before we finally beat Villa Rica 4 to 1 for that first win.” Gillespie recalled. “The girls were incredibly excited about that first win; one would have thought we had won a championship the way they all celebrated.” Gillespie has added 252 more wins to that first victory with his girls teams over the 22 years.
The PHS boys win on Tuesday pushed Gillespie’s total record to 401 wins and 167 losses. In the 14 years he has coached the boys, he has accumulated another 148 wins. Gillespie has not only notched a lot of wins, but his teams have also been regular participants in the state playoffs. The girls team has a streak of 14 consecutive appearances and 15 trips to the playoffs overall. Pepperell's boys team has been to the playoffs eight times during his coaching tenure. “Although it feels good to reach such a milestone, it's really not about me,” Gillespie said. “I have been blessed over the years to have support from great administrators, two incredible athletic directors, wonderful parents, and, most importantly, student athletes dedicated to growing and maintaining the tennis program at Pepperell High.” Gillespie added, “I have just been very fortunate to be along for the journey - and it also means I'm a lot older than I used to be!”
At this point in the tennis season, Pepperell's girls team record is 8-4, and the boys team has an impressive 10-2 record. “This season has been especially challenging because most of the schools in the region are really good.” Gillespie stated. “Every year, I have a group of seniors who really step up and become leaders and push the rest of the team to work hard and compete with heart and hustle.”