Nobody understands the connection between an encouraging and competitive environment better than Andover Girls Tennis Coach Deborah Chase, seen through Andover’s 9-1 record this season, which has won her the title of _The Phillipian_’s Spring Coach of the Year.
Although this year’s team has no shortage of skill, the supportive atmosphere created by Chase has been critical to the team’s success.
“She makes sure that we are not only working our hardest, but working in a cohesive manner and having fun,” said Co-Captain Camille Price ’15. “She knows that working relentlessly day in and day out is not going to make us win matches or increase our love of the sport; rather, she understands that our love of the team and the work we put in when we are together is really what is going to define our season.”
In a sport like tennis, which is just as mental as physical, the girls benefit greatly from the constant Chase is. She keeps them focused in exhausting matches, never allowing them to beat themselves mentally even in the face of discouraging 6-0, 5-1 scorelines.
“Coach Chase has without a doubt helped me become a better tennis player. She’s really helped me work on my mental game, reminding me not to get down on myself,” said Isabella Haegg ’16.
Co-Captain Campbell Howe ’14 said, “She knows that I respond better to tough love on the courts and shouts [for me] to try harder.”
Chase’s formula for winning is so successful because it does not solely focus on beating other teams and extending undefeated streaks. As Coach, Chase has instilled strong team values into her girls, pushing them to go beyond their limits for their teammates.
“What made us so strong this year was first, the excellence at the top of the ladder and depth through the rest of the ladder,” said Chase in an email to the Phillipian. “Second, the remarkable camaraderie and work ethic of the girls. No team had more fun while working hard than ours, which is the greatest success in my book.”
“Having split sets with an opponent, heading into a third set tie breaker, you are motivated by your coach and teammates who are cheering you on and your drive for the team. You want to win for yourself and the team,” said Price.
Price continued, “Coach Chase is the type of person [who] …makes you want to perform at your highest level, because of how much she believes in you both as an individual and as an essential component of the team, regardless of your position on the ladder.”
Chase has worked hard to create this unity, going above and beyond for every single one of her players by inviting them to her house, talking to them individually outside of practice and making an effort to know her players.
“She’s so genuine and loves to laugh with us. She’ll let us be silly or inappropriate or play raunchy songs in the car and just roll her eyes and smile. She and I have been so close on and off the courts such a great coach is that she knows me, knows how to keep me fighting and knows exactly what to say at any given moment,” said Howe.
All of these sentiments are reciprocated by Chase, who has displayed a true passion for coaching. Last season, Chase went on maternity leave after the birth of her first child, and, although the team had a good season, going 6-1, the girls have flourished under her guidance this season.
“Though I loved my time with my son Ollie, I really missed coaching. I was especially excited to come back to this special group of girls this year. We had five returners and three new players, all of whom I knew were going to motivate and complement each other. And they did both of these things and so much more,” wrote Chase.
As an English teacher and a new mother, Chase is accustomed to playing more than one role, and she seamlessly makes the transition from coach to companion for her players.
“She’s more than a coach — she’s a friend and a true mentor,” continued Howe. “She’s the all-in-one person on campus, and she’s one of my favorite people here.”
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