The Wellesley High School varsity girls tennis team has had an amazing regular season, and now takes its 16-0 record and #2 ranking into the post-season that starts June 4.
“Everyone stepped up this season,” gushes Coach Rob Miller. “There were high expectations both this year and last year and all the players performed very well under the pressure. We often lost the first set but went on to win the match, they all showed great perseverance.”
Miller, as well as Captains Maria Laso (senior), Kate Burton (Junior), and Haley Genta (Sophomore), emphasized how the first match on the schedule against Weymouth set a precedent for the rest of the season. The Raiders lost their first set of the season 6-0.
“We were all over the place” Laso says. Despite the rocky start, the team came back from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to win 7-5, followed by a 6-0 third-set victory. “We started to communicate and talk to each other, and that’s how we won the match,” she says.
Genta adds: “We started to chant ‘Let’s go!’ and created a sense of urgency and intensity that got the whole team motivated.”
Coach Miller says the team began to play smarter, in part by hitting the ball towards the opponents’ weaker players during doubles matches.
Miller, who has coached the men’s tennis teams at Boston College and Boston University, took on the WHS job 2 years ago, and is assisted by WHS English teacher Andrew Bennett.
Last season the girls had a not-too-shabby 15-3 record, but Miller says improvement this season can be attributed in part to the team getting used to his style.
Burton says the team has bonded better this season as well.
“Everyone does their part and supports each other,” she says. “We have great support from JV [junior varsity] as well.” Burton herself has only lost one singles match.
The varsity team has three different captains all in different grades, and that gives everyone on the team someone they feel comfortable talking to, Burton says. “There’s no hierarchy,” she says.The team looks to put that unity to use as the Division 1 tournament starts up. The Raiders are set to play the winner of Whitman-Hanson and Bishop Feehan in the first round, taking place today at 4pm, and will look to advance to the finals in mid-June. The whole team and Miller are very excited and proud.