“Rhea Bhandari… was the deciding match and she won in a tiebreaker, so that was huge for us, for her to keep fighting and basically save the team. We were all there to support her until the very end, and we believed in her 100% throughout the whole time,” said Reimi Kusaka ’21.
Over the weekend, Nicole Lee ’22, Reimi Kusaka ’21, Co-Captain Katherine Hu ’19, and Bhandari traveled to Kent for the team’s annual tournament among six schools. Lee won the championship in her second singles flight, Kusaka placed second in her first singles flight, and Hu and Bhandari secured the doubles flight with a close 11-9 tiebreaker against Kingswood Oxford in the final.
As a team, Andover won the tournament, demonstrating the immense progress the team has made over the course of its 2019 season, according to Kusaka and Hu.
“Katherine and I lost to the doubles team at Exeter, but this time, we actually won and beat the same people that we lost to, so that shows the amount of hard work and progress that we have put into our practices since then. It just boosts up our confidence and shows how much hard work actually pays off and how we could learn from our losses,” said Kusaka.
Hu said, “I think that was a really good experience for all of us because… we beat a couple teams from Exeter that we originally lost to. When we played Exeter early in the season, we lost to those teams, but at Kent, we beat them, which shows that we’ve improved and really understand how to play better against them. It was a really great bonding experience.”
The team also swept Thayer 9-0 on Wednesday, which prepared it for the competition it will face at Nepsacs, which will occur at home this weekend, according to Lee and Hu.
“We were focused on really preparing mentally for Nepsacs and just refining everything we have been working on throughout the season. This includes our doubles tactics and formations. Although Thayer was an easier opponent, it allowed us to test out different tactics and game plans. I think it really helped our confidence going into Nepsacs,” said Lee
She continued, “I think a major takeaway for us was that we know what we need to do to be successful. It is really just about implementing [that] in matches and not beating ourselves because we have what it takes to win.”
The team aims to win Nepsacs after coming in second place last year. Their last championship win was the year before, in 2017.
Hu said, “Nepsacs is what we’ve been working towards our entire season. Last year, we came in second – runner up to Hotchkiss. The year before, we won Nepsacs. The year before – my [Junior] year – we also came in runner-up to Milton, I believe. So we’ve always been one of the top spots consistently, whether that’s winning it or coming in second for many, many years now. And every single year we come in with a goal to win Nepsacs. That is pretty much our goal that we work towards for the entire season.”