Sports

Girls Tennis Triumphs over St. Pauls, Remaining Undefeated on the Season

COURTESY OF PHILLIPS ACADEMY

Co-Captain Ananya Madduri ’23 has played on Girls Tennis for three years.

COURTESY OF PHILLIPS ACADEMY

Co-Captain Nicole Lee ’23 is one of three Seniors on Girls Tennis.

Despite having four players out due to Covid-19, Andover Girls Tennis brought home the win, beating St. Paul’s 7-2. The team remains undefeated throughout its first three games of the season.

Amy Oku ’25, a seed two player, expressed the perseverance of the team. Almost half of the team were not able to play, which caused seed changes and partner changes, slightly affecting the level of play according to Oku.

“We have… four people from our team gone. [So] it was a big part of my team missing out. But we kind of adjusted and then I was put with a new partner. And the lineup was really staggered in a way because you’re missing so many people. But I think in the end, we found a way to kind of cumulatively come together and hype each other up. And even though we were missing some really important players on the team, [we] were able to pull through and then come up with a really good one,” said Oku.

Lena Ciganer ’25 described the team’s current state as a positive progression. Ciganer believes that the team has done a great job learning from matches and practicing consistently, but an area of growth would be getting comfortable in receiving unexpected serves and communicating better on the volleys. Still, Ciganer is confident in her abilities on the court and towards the growth of the team collectively. 

I think the team overall has definitely improved since the beginning of the season already. But I think we still need to work on our serve and receives because especially in doubles, it’s really important to get those consistently in order to win. But I think our volleying has improved. We’ve been working on a lot of volleys in practice. My partner and I struggled to kind of [receive] the volleys that came at us often. And personally, I mean, I want to work on volleying. I think for singles, I’m in pretty good shape,” said Ciganer.

Coach Deb Chase credited the team for pushing through difficult situations that were not in their control. Along with missing a few key players, the weather also propped up to be an obstacle on the way. Though everyone adjusted well and came out winning crucial matches, Chase states.

Coach Chase said, “We’ve been working a lot on doubles and on playing more aggressively in general, so as to create opportunities to win the points more effectively and efficiently. Yesterday, the team adjusted well to tough wind conditions and after solid doubles play, came out and won their singles matches with conviction.”

Additionally, because of the team’s shortcomings, Claire Cheng ’25 moved up from Varsity B to Varsity A to play against St. Paul’s. Oku highlighted Cheng’s performance because she was able to persist in the face of difficult demands. Achieving that chemistry between partners when not practicing together is really difficult, but Cheng was able to pull it off. 

Oku said. “Honestly, I think Claire, because she had to play out from her team, which I think is like a lot of pressure as someone, that she wasn’t even playing for her own team. But she did really well yesterday. And I was really proud of her because she really stepped up into the spotlight. And I also think Nicole did [well], because she was my [match] partner. And I was not in the right headspace. But she was really helping me at every point.”

For the future, Ciganer is prioritizing her teammates’ health, mentioning that team connections are crucial in having smooth matches. Again, she is assured of her team’s talents and is hoping to hone in on those for the tougher competitions ahead.

“So next up, we’re playing Deerfield. I don’t really know about their level. But my first priority is for the team to get back together. Because obviously, we’re still missing, like quite a few people from the team. So the first thing that I want is everyone to come back together. And I just hope we can. We have like a few challenging matches that we haven’t played yet. So I just hope we can win all of our matches, because I think we’re capable of doing that,” said Ciganer.