For the first time in six seasons, the Ridgefield High boys tennis team will have a new head coach this spring.

Aaron Hyde, a club instructor and former player at Masuk High School in Monroe, takes over for Brad Harrington, who resigned following last season. Harrington guided the Tigers to the conference finals (for just the second time) in 2014 and the conference semifinals in 2013.

Hyde played at Masuk in the mid-2000s and went on to form a club team at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven. After college, he worked for five years as an instructor at Intensity in Norwalk and also coached with the Fairfield County Tennis youth program.

“Aaron brought to the interview process a clear passion for the sport and was able to articulate his vision for the future of the RHS boys tennis program,” said Dane Street, the athletic director at Ridgefield High. “In addition, his experiences both as a player and coach give him the necessary knowledge of the sport, ability to relate to high school athletes, and applicable skill set to help our athletes perform at a high level while promoting the team aspect of high school tennis.”

That team aspect is one of the things Hyde likes most about high school tennis.

“Tennis is often a lonely experience; most of these guys are usually playing as individuals at tournaments,” said Hyde. “High school tennis provides a chance to be part of a team and have teammates cheering for you at matches. The matches can get emotional, especially if they are against rivals.”

After going 12-4 during the regular season and then losing to Greenwich in the FCIAC quarterfinals in 2015, Ridgefield dropped to 8-8 last spring and failed to qualify for the eight-team conference playoffs. A pair of 4-3 setbacks — to Norwalk and Trumbull — denied the Tigers their customary spot in the conference post-season.

“I know last year was a bit of a down year,” said Hyde. “But Ridgefield has a great program and tradition, and I want to help the team rebound. It’s a town that has produced a bunch of really good players.”

The Tigers should have most of their starters returning this season. The only two seniors on last year’s roster were Tal Nizan and Will Hogan, who played second and third singles, respectively. In addition, Hyde said that Ridgefield is getting a strong freshman class.

“I have met with the two senior captains (Andrew Mercorella and Drew Warren) and they are optimistic about the upcoming season,” said Hyde. “We have a couple of holes to fill in the singles lineup, but some of the freshmen should help, and some of the returning players have really improved.”

Hyde mentions perennial conference and state power Staples as an aspirational model for Ridgefield. The Wreckers have won three straight FCIAC titles and were the Class LL state champs in 2014 and 2016.

“I am friends with Kris Hrisovulos, who’s had a lot of success (in seven seasons) at Staples,” said Hyde. “I see no reason why Ridgefield can’t get to a similar level, and I want to be a part of making that happen.”