Andover defeated Groton 5-1 in the quarterfinals and Greenwich 5-3 in the semifinals at home before traveling to Westminster for the team’s seventh consecutive finals appearance, where it would face Hotchkiss.
According to Co-Captains Rhea Bhandari ’19 and Katherine Hu ’19, the win against Groton gave the team confidence and a taste of the tournament atmosphere.
“We played Groton earlier in the season and had a relatively easy win against them. However, I think that since it was the quarterfinals, there was a little more pressure on us to perform our best and play our best tennis. So I think everybody played well and really focused in the moment,” said Bhandari.
Hu added, “We played doubles first, and it’s really important to get off to a good start because to win in the tournament, you only have to get five points and the doubles count for three points. So in the game against Groton, we were up 2-1 after the doubles round and that definitely gave us more confidence and more leeway.”
According to Nicole Lee ’22, Andover translated its momentum from the victory over Groton into its match against Greenwich, a team it didn’t face during the season.
“Greenwich was definitely a tougher opponent. Obviously as you go deeper into the tournament, the matches are bound to be harder,” said Lee. “I think that given we had a bit of a tough time in the first round, it pushed us and really prepared us for the second round. We went in with no expectations and we just wanted to give it our all. We never played Greenwich before so we just went out there with a really good fighting spirit and things just went our way.”
Going down 2-1 after doubles against Hotchkiss in the finals, Andover was able to keep its composure and fight back to win four singles matches and take home the championship title, according to Hu and Lee.
“Definitely going down 2-1 after the doubles only just gave us more fight because it showed us that we had to work extra hard during the singles to win. Every single person had to fight and every single person had a job in our victory that day. So going down instilled more motivation to play hard during the singles,” said Hu.
Lee added, “[Head] Coach [Deborah] Chase talked to us after the doubles and told us that we needed to go out and give it our all on the court. That really resonated with all of us because each of us went out there with great energy. We were all at the top of our games and we ended up winning the next four games.”
With the victory, Andover was able to get revenge after losing a tough finals match against Hotchkiss last year, according to Bhandari.
“Last year in the finals, we were up 3-0 after doubles going into singles, and losing that was a very tough moment for all of us,” said Bhandari. “And it think that being 2-1 down helped us to have even more determination and more willpower to win. We did want revenge and I think that a lot of the girls really wanted this win. We all worked so hard just to get to the finals, and it was a very important win for us.”
Kusaka added, “When I heard the news that we were playing Hotchkiss again in the finals, I was really excited to play them again. Of course, we wanted revenge, but their team is so strong and I knew that it was going to be a great experience. But since we lost to them last year, it made the victory even better. It not only proved that we were a strong team, but also showed our progress and improvement since last year.”