Girls Varsity Tennis clinched a second place trophy at the Nepsac Class A championships this past weekend, alongside a 5-4 victory over Phillips Exeter Academy in a nail-biting final match this Wednesday. The team’s win against Exeter marked the conclusion of an undefeated regular season for Andover, its final record standing at 10-0.
Andover entered this year’s Nepsac tournament as the first seed, but the team’s initial high placement did not diminish its attention to the many strong competitors in attendance, according to Co-Captain Lauren Lee ’18.
“The overall competition keeps getting tougher and tougher every year. Even though we were first seed, there were definitely no expectations going into the championships, given each team has proven tremendously strong,” Lee said.
Saturday brought the first round of competition for Andover. Due to rainy weather, the team utilized its indoor courts in the Snyder Center to host the first round of competition. The familiar atmosphere of its home courts gave Andover the confidence needed to triumph in both the quarter-finals and semifinals, according to Lee.
“In comparison to last year, we played the first rounds of the championships at home, which was definitely an advantage,” Lee said.
The the team dominated against the Taft –– a team it had not yet faced this season –– in the quarterfinals with a 5-0 sweep.
“For the quarterfinals, we played Taft which is a team that we didn’t play in the regular season, so it was nice to play different opponents,” said Hannah Zhang ’21.
The team then advanced to the semifinals where it faced Milton for the second time this season.
“For the semis, we played Milton who we played just recently and beat, but they were still pretty tough,” Zhang said.
Andover triumphed 5-2 against Milton in an especially exciting match, according to Lee.
“One of my favorite memories was when [Amy Ji ’18] won her tiebreaker to secure the fifth win against Milton during the semis on Saturday. She played such a tough match and had lost to her opponent earlier in the season, so it was a really special moment for her, as well as the rest of the team. We all ran onto the court, screaming, jumping, crying. It was pretty magical,” said Lee.
“My most exciting moment and highlight was when we played Milton’s team. All the matches were very close, and as soon as a teammate won her match, the whole team stood up and congratulated her,” said Reimi Kusaka ’21 in an interview with The Phillipian.
On Sunday, Andover rose bright and early to travel to Westminster, Conn., where it would compete against Hotchkiss for the first place title. After clinching a 5-4 win over Hotchkiss earlier this season, Andover knew the competition would be fierce, according to Zhang.
“So in the finals, we played Hotchkiss again, and we beat them 5-4 in the regular season, so we knew they were going to be a very tough team,” Zhang said.
While Andover swept the doubles portion of the match, the team faltered when it came to the singles matches, ultimately falling with an overall score of 4-5.
“Hotchkiss definitely stepped up their game, so the singles were tough matches, and it was kind of different from our typical ones since it was harder for us to cheer each other on, especially because there was only a doorway and no room to watch on the court,” said Zhang.
Despite the loss, Andover was able to appreciate the competition brought by its opponents and learn from its mistakes, according to Kusaka.
“Surprisingly, my favorite memory was after we lost. Despite our loss, we sat in a circle and reminded each other that there will always be times when some things don’t go as expected. We all fought our hardest, and our defeat will only encourage us to work harder for next year,” Kusaka said.