by Roger Wistar
Filling holes in the roster is a challenge for most varsity teams, but not this year’s girls tennis team, who return virtually every player from last year’s New England runners-up.
Eight of the nine players on this year’s team also played on the varsity last year, and head coach Jackson Marvel said that this year’s team hopes to stay focused and produce similar results.
“This team has the potential for a strong season,” said Marvel.
One of the challenges of this season, acknowledged Marvel, will be playing more often as a favorite instead of an underdog. “Last year we were sort of under the radar – this year we’re not,” he said.
And even with a strong core of underclassmen, including top seed Sara McClure ’20, Marvel said that the team is focused on living in the present and making the most of this season.
One of the chief assets for the team will be captain Emily Rose ’18, a four-year varsity player who was also a two-time captain of the girls squash team. Marvel was effusive in his appreciation for the work that Rose has done and will do for the team this season.
“Emily is a great captain and a great leader,” said Marvel, adding that only two other years during his time with the team have featured a solo captain. “It says a lot about her, how much the team respects her and the belief that she can do the job alone.”
For Rose, her role as captain extends both on and off the court. “My goal as captain this year is to stand as a friend, role model, and resource for the girls on the team,” she said, adding, “This is a really great group of girls to captain, and so far it has been a blast.”
The only new addition to the team this year is Meghana Annamaneni ’21, and thus far her integration into the squad has gone smoothly, said Marvel. Team bonding activities outside of practice and prior connections on other teams have helped accelerate the process, he said.
Rose agreed. “Meghana has jumped right into things on the team,” she said. “She’s incredibly positive on and off the court, and works hard every practice.”
One point of emphasis for the team in the offseason has been conditioning. Rose credits the team’s fitness work this winter for helping the team be in better shape this season. “I think being a fitter team this year is going to be beneficial and pay off big time during our matches,” she said.