With the Girls Tennis season starting to come to a close, the team is hitting its shots when it matters the most. After starting the season 2-10, the varsity team picked up two crucial wins to boost its mentality as they went into conference. At conference, the girls team picked up impressive placements with Michelle Vuong placing 3rd, Jacqueline Bugante placing 4th and Antonina Pecoraro placing 5th in their respective competitions.
However, the team goal has always been about improvement through this season and the next couple of seasons. With both the varsity and junior varsity teams boasting such young teams, the challenge this season was always going to be adjusting to the higher quality and strength of opponents. Varsity Coach Justin Hegner said, “We are a young team, but we are a hard-working team. A lot of girls are learning the difference between JV from last year and Varsity this year. Every day we are constantly learning and getting better.”
A factor in the amount of youth on the team has been the successes of the past. With 17 seniors on the team graduating from the past couple of years. Addressing the team’s past, Senior and Varsity player Michelle Vuong said, “Last year we had a phenomenal girls tennis team, especially the girls varsity team. They were absolutely words beyond amazing. However, the vast majority of the girls had recently graduated on the last year’s varsity team.”
Instead of focusing on the past many of the new varsity players have decided to take it with stride using it to power through the challenges the season has presented. “I feel that many of the newly recruited girls on the varsity team, including myself, had a rough start. As most of us were not used to playing on the varsity level. However, with the great help of Coach Hegner, we were quick to improve and adjust to playing on such a level. Throughout the season what were our weaknesses in the beginning were no longer our weaknesses,” said Vuong.
While there may be a lack of experience at the varsity level there is no lack of communication or bonding to be found on the team. Senior and Varsity player Caroline Thomas said, “A strength of the team is the bond we have made with each other. We all work really well as a team and support each other.”
Staying in the game and not giving up through demanding circumstances has also served as another major positive for the team. Junior and Co-Captain Jacqueline Bugante said, “One of the strengths that I see in the team is the spirit and determination that they bring to the courts with each game. Every single player is passionate and focused on the win.”
The future is also of great importance for the girls team with junior varsity showing good signs to come. Talking about the successes, Junior Varsity coach Christopher Grice said, “Danielle Duncan and Maria Aquilar took 1st place playing 2nd doubles in the Fenton JV Invitation, which has been our biggest victory so far this season.”
A concern though for the team has been the number of players they have and making awareness that anyone and everyone is welcome. “We would love for more students to give tennis a try. Anyone can come out and play, even people who have never played tennis before,” said Grice.
Both of the two teams have also worked on preparing for matches making sure they are as ready as they can be when the challenges in matches arise. Talking about her match preparation, Junior and Co-Captain Antonina Pecoraro said, “To prepare for a match I always like listening to music. Dancing around and singing lyrics usually help me to not be as nervous. I recommend prime 2010 Justin Bieber; the classics if I do say so myself.”
Being in the correct place before a match is also crucial to prepare for the match. “I try to prepare myself mentally, as I feel that it’s very important to believe in yourself when playing a match. A positive mindset is really the hidden key to success,” said Vuong.
Many on the team have also had personal goals that they would like to achieve “My personal goals are just to become a better player. Winning honestly means nothing if you feel you didn’t do your best. If I can become better than I was at the beginning of the season, then I’ve met my goal,” said Pecoraro.