Lebanon boys tennis coach steps down

  • Lebanon coach Michael Haxton gathers his team following their 6-3 state championship win over Oyster River in Bedford, N.H., on May 31, 2016. (Valley News - Mac Snyder) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 7/2/2019 10:09:31 PM

LEBANON — Citing a change in his winter living plans, Michael Haxton has resigned as Lebanon High’s boys tennis coach.

Haxton moved to the Upper Valley from Rhode Island five years ago and brought the Raiders their first run of sustained success. Lebanon made three straight NHIAA Division II state finals from 2015-17, two of which resulted in championships. The Raiders won 65 of their 81 matches with Haxton in charge.

A year-round Sunapee resident, Haxton said he and his wife are looking to spend winters at The Villages in central Florida, usually between February and April. With the New Hampshire high school tennis season starting in March combined with the pull of warmer weather, Haxton said it was time to end his run with the Raiders.

“My wife has said that when the time comes and when I decided to give up coaching, I would like to stay for January (in Sunapee), because both of us ski,” Haxton said on Tuesday. “So that’s what we decided. We’ll go to Florida February, March and April. We can’t do that with me still coaching up here.

“I’ll be 60 in October. I’ve known what I was doing (in the spring) for almost 20 years. That’s pretty much the main reason to call it a career.”

Haxton hasn’t completely given up coaching, however. He’s arranged to be a volunteer at a Florida high school that caters to employees of The Villages, an age-restricted community of more than 70,000 located an hour northwest of Orlando.

Led by Max Reed, who would eventually play four years of men’s squash at the University of Pennsylvania, Lebanon made the program’s first D-II team final in 2015, dropping a 5-4 decision to Portsmouth.

A senior at the time, Reed went on to win the NHIAA boys singles title five days later.

Lebanon broke through with team championships the next two springs, beating Oyster River in 2016, 6-3, and conquering Portsmouth, 7-2, the following year. Jacob Peress, the Raiders’ top singles player during the run, advanced to the NHIAA singles final as a senior in ’17.

Haxton, who remains active in the Upper Valley tennis- and pickleball-playing communities, may still assist Lebanon girls tennis coach Rob Johnstone in the spring, if asked. He intends to keep his distance from whoever ends up taking over his old job.

“As I told (athletic director) Mike Stone, if I could come back at the end of March, because that’s when the first match is next year, instead of not until April 8, I would have stayed one more year,” Haxton said. “But in fairness to him, he can’t tell me yes and tell other coaches to be there (earlier). I don’t want to put him in that position.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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