Through the consistency of doubles partners Co-Captain Nicole Lee ’22 and Co-Captain Reimi Kusaka ’21, Andover Girls Tennis emerged victorious in two games this past weekend. Andover defeated Pingree 8-1 this past Friday and Groton 8-1 the next day, bringing the team’s record to 4-0.
According to Ananya Madurri ’23, the team was working on refining its doubles matches and chemistry between partners leading up to its matches.
Madurri said, “So going into the Groton match, we had a pretty big focus on our doubles and just being able to combine with our partners while we were a couple games in a be very comfortable with coming into the net, transitioning in when we feel like we are up, and generally transitioning into our singles matches. Which means just coming up to the net and trying to finish the point when we are vollying.”
Madurri also noted that confidence and adaptation within a competition are important factors of the team’s success; the players were unaware of their match against Pingree until notified just hours before the competition began.
“We felt really confident. We played Pingree on Friday and Groton on Saturday, and for the entire week, we just thought we were going to play Groton. But at noon on Friday, we got notified by the coach that there was a mix up and that we were playing Pingree, and to get on the court in two and a half hours. So just being able to adapt to that when none of us were in the tennis match mindset and switch on fast, come together as a team, and get the job done,” Madurri said.
According to Elizabeth Zhang ’22, the mental aspect of the game was of similar importance to the physical. Zhang noted that her excitement in the days prior to the match allowed her to play aggressively.
Zhang said, “I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, since I knew this would be happening a couple weeks beforehand, I felt really excited and ready for the game, so when the day came, I was ready to get out there and attack the court.”
Emory Wilson ’23 noted that Andover’s ability to translate what it had learned in practice to the matches was an important aspect of the team’s victories.
“I definitely saw the execution of what we were working on in practice as it shows that we are getting better. Specifically, I noticed the net players taking advantage of some weaker shots or mistakes by the opponents,” said Wilson.
According to Zhang, the coaches were an integral part of the team’s victory. Zhang was grateful for their advice which she was able to follow to maintain focus and discipline during the matches.
Zhang said, “For me at least, I was thinking about what the coaches were telling us. Coach Gabby kept emphasizing that depth is king, and that really kept me focused on playing my best game.”
Similar to Zhang, Kusaka believes that the team’s matches this past weekend show the difficulty of the mental and emotional sides of the sport. Kusaka noted that these aspects of the game are essential to improve on in the coming weeks.
“Due to the pandemic, I believe that a lot of the players on the team have forgotten the mental challenges of playing tennis. I think that as a team, we would like to discuss more strategies and the importance of controlling our emotions during our next matches,” said Kusaka.
The team hopes to improve its doubles’ gameplay and mental toughness as it faces Phillips Exeter Academy away this Saturday.