All That Racquet: Girls Tennis 2016

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Mary Centimano

This was a year of change. Change in coaching, change in team dynamic, change in practice attitude. 

As the girls’ tennis team walked onto the court for their first day of tryouts, they noticed a different atmosphere compared to years’ past. They knew they had to prepare themselves for adjustments throughout the season.

After coaching for more than 45 years, Sue Chipman made the decision to retire last  spring, and Andy Gibbs has since taken over her position as head coach. With a new coach came a new mindset. A new mindset that stressed how important it was to be “intentional” about practice.

“Previously, practice was just come and maybe play a match or play a set,” Gibbs said. “Now we are doing stuff with some strength, agility and conditioning.”

The seniors on the varsity team decided it was time to make a change of their own, a change they hoped would create a more cohesive team. Senior Quincy Bair, along with the 18 other seniors, came up with the idea to create tennis families. 

“There is kind of a separation between upperclassmen and underclassmen at practice,” Bair said. 

Bair hoped that having families would not only create a more cohesive team, but would give each player someone new to talk to and cheer them on at their matches. 

“We decided there should be two seniors in each group, and we tried to split everyone else up evenly,” Bair said. “We were like, ‘Well I want to get to know this person better or I’d like to see them more often.’” 

The seniors planned to buy little gifts and wish their family members good luck on match days, or go out for ice cream after practices.

 In line with Coach Gibbs, the seniors hoped having the families would help the team become more connected. 

“This is a way, hopefully, to help with support and having someone there at your match besides your parents who is going to support and encourage you,” Gibbs said. 

Joining the team meant adapting to the new changes. It took showing up to practice every day, or risking not playing in future matches. It took staying focused during the whole practice, even on Friday afternoons when there’s a football game that night. 

This revamped attitude created new traditions that may stick with the team for years to come.