Girl Tennis Preview: Oak Hill is looking forward to having enough players for an entire team

WALES – The mood this year for the Oak Hill girls’ tennis team is different compared to 2021.

The returning juniors Julia Kronstrand, Alexis Spencer and Ariana Thibeault have a leap in their stride, knowing that they have reinforcements this season and that every game does not start with the Raiders already trailing 0-2.

“It was a big pressure, just the three of us,” Thibeault said. “Obviously we were all going to win. It was just a big pressure.”

Last season, the three were the only members of the team. They played singles matches, so Oak Hill had to give up the two doubles for all of the season’s 10 team matches. Faced with these conditions, the Raiders went 0-10.

“It’s really nice, I think we have a great opportunity this year with so many extra girls,” Kronstrand said. “I’m so excited that they’re learning about (tennis) and doing well.”

The returnees made some recruits who had some success with the second-year class when Kadence Moulton, Nhi Nguyen, Sarah Rossignol, Destiney Samare and Alivia Savage joined the team.

Now, with eight players, Oak Hill will field a full team – three singles and two doubles – and have one player on the bench.

Thibesult said she feels more confident and comfortable this season because there will be more opportunities for the Raiders to win games this season.

Spencer said having an even number of players has made training better this spring.

“It was really tough because of COVID, close contacts and everything else,” Spencer said. “Many times when we played against each other in practice, one of us would be left out because there was an odd number. It was also really hard for us because we didn’t get as much playing time.”

Raiders coach Liz Tibbetts focused on skill development last season.

“Last year, we did a ton of fundamental things, and we did a lot of things at home,” Tibbetts said. Like, ‘Watch these videos and learn how to do this.’ It was a very different sight. “

Kronstrand said that newcomers will pick up the physical skills with training and during the match, but she will make sure that they are prepared for the ups and downs that happen during a season.

“We still have a lot to learn from them, but what we have learned, especially through adversity, I think is something that is strong,” Kronstad said.

The next step is to learn double-tennis, as none of the players have competed in these matches at the high school level.

Tibbetts, who is in his 10th season as coach of Oak Hill, said the team should have a crash course this week.

“We haven’t done double that in three years,” Tibbetts said. “We’re on our way back to the groove. Changing the practice format. My daughter (Cassidy Tibbetts, who is an assistant coach) and I talked about what we would include in doubles because we have not done it for so long. It’s just digging the old ones. information forward. ”

Tibbetts’ plan is to team veterans with newcomers. She said it’s the best way because the repeaters know how to work with inexperienced players.

“We also play youth (tennis), and my girls actually trained at the end of last year. I think it teaches them lessons like how to be patient and how to instruct, but know what to work on. with, ”said Tibbetts.

She said they might want to do some video sessions on double tennis.

Spencer and Thibeault briefly played doubles in youth tennis before joining high school. Thibeault said the most important thing is that the doubles players develop chemistry on the pitch.

“The biggest difference is having a player with me (on the pitch) and trying to get that communication down,” Thibeault said.

Spencer said players should also get used to using the entire court, as the alleys are off the court in singles tennis, but inbound in doubles.

Despite the challenges, the veterans are looking forward to learning doubles.

“I’m very excited to learn doubles. I think there’s a very cool team aspect; I can not wait for that collaborative aspect,” Kronstrand said. “We all go a little blind into this, but we have Mrs. Tibbetts, which will help us do a lot this season. “

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