Earning a 9-0 sweep over Phillips Exeter Academy last Saturday, Andover Girls Tennis remains undefeated, boasting a record of 7-0. The match against Exeter marked its fifth sweep of the season.
Andover has an experienced team this year, with six returning players on its roster, including second seed Dariya Zhumashova ’17 who was out for the majority of last season due to injury.
“Everyone’s been playing extremely well, but Dariya, our number two seed, has maintained easy wins throughout our season,” Lauren Lee ’18 said. “Joining the team from an injury last year, she’s been a constant reliable player, with such a calm attitude on court, and she’s played a large role in the team’s success with consecutive wins at number 1 doubles and number 2 singles.”
Co-Captain Isabella Haegg ’16 said, “We’ve been lucky the past few seasons to have a very deep team and that’s led to a lot of success. We can all play confidently and rally around each other knowing that we have a pretty high level that translates well in matches.”
The addition of two new Juniors, Lauren Fanning ’19 and Katherine Hu ’19, has also added depth to Andover’s ladder.
“The freshmen have been very key at the bottom half of the ladder because they’re what makes our team deep. They play confidently, consistently, and intelligently in their matches,” said Haegg.
Fanning displayed her talent and poise this past Saturday against Exeter when she rallied and won her match despite losing the first set.
Haegg said, “Lauren Fanning just pulled out an awesome win against Exeter after splitting sets against Exeter’s senior player. While she could’ve been discouraged or nervous after losing the first set, she rallied back and solidified our sweep.”
Playing at fifth seed in singles, Hu has also proved to be a strong asset to the team.
Sewon Park ’17 said, “[Katherine] has a great attitude, and she hits really great ground strokes. I’m so proud of her because she’s been able to step up and she remains confident and positive regardless of how her points are going.”
Because it’s one of the smaller teams on campus, each player supports one another and subsequently Andover has focused on winning together as a team, rather than as individuals.
Head Coach Deborah Chase said, “Everyone has been fantastic. We’ve worked hard to make the team and the season less about the individual wins and more about the team’s overall effort, effectiveness and enjoyment.”
Charlotte Welch ’18 said, “I think that we have been doing very well this season due to the team dynamic which is very cohesive as well as inclusive.”
One of Andover’s strategies is to maintain its quality of play, without always focusing on the result.
Lee said, “Our team had stayed immensely focused on each match this season. Even through such a successful season, we’ve tried our best to put ourselves in the mindset of playing one match at a time and not get too ahead of ourselves.”
Many of Andover’s players trained together throughout the offseason and continue to train off the court throughout the season, constantly trying to perfect their skills.
Haegg said, “We practice a lot offseason – whether through tournaments, lessons, or hitting with each other – and this season we have an assistant coach, Gabby Yetten, who’s been great in running drills and helping us with strategy alongside Coach Chase.”
“It’s great to have two coaches giving us advice during our matches so we have even more support in playing our best,” added Haegg.
Lee said, “We’ve definitely been training hard on and off the court – even when the weather doesn’t cooperate – and I think that’s also shown in our matches.”
Looking toward to rest of the season, Andover hopes to keep up its high level of play, focus, and strong mental game.
Haegg said, “We’ll look to develop that aggressive mentality more so we can start off our matches strong and finish them stronger.”
Editor’s Note: Sewon Park is a Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.