Andover Girls Tennis swept St. Paul’s School 15-0 on Wednesday in their second match of the season. The team’s record now stands at 2-0.
“We had a really strong second match against St. Paul’s and I’m really proud of the team for pulling through despite pretty tricky wind conditions. This match gives us great momentum going into our next two matches this weekend. Just the win we needed to kickstart this season,” said Co-Captain Lauren Lee ’18.
According to fifth-seed Hannah Zhang ’21, the team expected the match against St. Paul’s to be an easy one.
Zhang said, “We went into the game knowing that it wouldn’t be as tough as playing Groton.”
On April 4, Andover beat Groton School 9-6.
While cold and windy conditions made play difficult, Andover adjusted well, according to its players.
First-seed Reimi Kusaka ’21, who dominated her singles match in a score of 6-0, 6-0, said, “The team did well on adjusting with opponents who play with different styles and also switching to outdoor tennis.”
Sixth-seed Rhea Bhandari ’19, who won her singles match in a score of 6-2, 6-0, added, “I think my team played really well today, as we were all focused on playing our own game. It was initially quite difficult with the wind and cold.”
In addition to adapting to outdoor courts and the weather, Andover Girls Tennis worked on taking their shots earlier, moving to the ball, and being more aggressive on the court.
Co-Captain Amy Ji ’18 said, “For my singles match, I just tried to play my game, and use what I have been practicing in the match. I really tried to take every ball early, and be really aggressive, while aiming for big targets.”
Bhandari added, “We concentrated on dominating the points by stepping in early and attacking shorter balls. Our team has a very strong baseline game with big ground strokes, however, the next stop for us is to close in at the net, and win [the] majority of our points with volleys and overheads.”
A particular challenge for Andover Girls Tennis was maintaining their patience and keeping their own playing style during their points, according to Zhang and Kusaka.
Zhang said, “I think one of the harder things about the matches was having patience with our shots, because the girls on St. Paul’s team would typically hit slower balls back to us. Coach [Deborah] Chase reminded us that we should keep playing our game, and not resort to theirs. I think we were able to execute our own shots pretty well at the end.”
Kusaka said, “Something the team can improve on is playing with [our] own style of play instead of playing differently according to the opponents’ [style].”
In the future, Andover Girls Tennis aims to improve their on-court movement.
Zhang said, “We, in general, need to work on footwork more, especially after playing with their slower shots. I know for me and for some of the other girls, our opponents would hit some slower balls, but would sometimes hit a really deep, flat and fast one randomly, so we need to make sure to stay focused, and keep the feet moving no matter what.”
Another area of improvement is their doubles tactics, according to Ji. According to Ji, she and her partner Kusaka had difficulty working together in the beginning of their doubles match, although they eventually won the match.
Ji said, “For doubles, it was my first time playing with Reimi Kusaka, so we struggled a little in the beginning, but were able to work together and pull through, winning at 8-4.”
Andover Girls Tennis will face Choate on Saturday and Hotchkiss on Sunday, both at home.