Old Lyme – Lauren Rahr herself has felt a bit of pressure. Second-year Old Lyme High School girls tennis coach Rahr guided his team to a 20-0 record and a Class S state championship this year one, a hard to top.
But Rahr is trying to take the burden of a repeat from his players.
“The girls have mentioned the pressure, certainly,” Rahr said. “And other teachers have suggested it while I’m in school, like, ‘What are you going to do? this year?’
“We had a good talk about it at the beginning of the season. Last year was our dream season. These are memories we will have forever. They will leave here, go to college and tell their college teammates that they won a “No matter what we do this year, it’s not going to replace it, and so it will always be there … This year they have the opportunity to do what their heart desires.”
So far, the new season seems to be a copy of the old one. After two games, the Wildcats are a perfect 2-0, including Friday’s 7-0 win over Old Saybrook. Old Lyme won all seven games by a 6-0, 6-0 margin.
Abby Sicuranza, a 5-foot-9 senior who will play collegiate tennis at St. Lawrence University, returns to number 1 in singles slot, followed on the singles ladder by Sam Tan, Callie Bass and Olivia Schaedler.
Meanwhile, junior Livie Bass is teaming up with senior Alexis Fenton in the No. 1 double, with Bass replacing graduate Lauren Wallace in that spot. Wallace and Fenton won the Shoreline Conference doubles title last year and won a victory when the Wildcats defeated Litchfield 5-2 for the state championship on June 3rd.
Bass and Fenton, Aggie Hunt and Beatrice Hunt and Fiona Hufford and Izzy Reynolds all went for double wins against Old Saybrook.
“A little pressure, but I’m kind of completely confident in our team,” Fenton said of the fresh season. “Definitely our team skills are still up there. I’m not worried and how far we get, it’s great.”
“There’s a little pressure, but we’re just trying to play the best tennis we can,” said Sicuranza, who is leading the team alongside Hufford. “We know we are a completely different team this year and other schools have completely different teams as well. So we try not to take anything for granted. The team changes every year.”
Sicuranza, for example, played USTA matches all summer and fall, hitting the Lyme Shores Tennis & Conditioning Center almost every day. She recognizes a collegiate exhibition she attended at the University of Pennsylvania, to give her a new perspective on her game, with various coaches instructing her on how she could better use her power.
“I came back and used it on my fights,” Sicuranza said. “I think it made me work on using my strength a little more. Last season I did not really use my legs for power, but now I figured out how to do it. … I play completely different than I did last year. “
“She knows tennis like the back of her hand,” Rahr said of Sicuranza. “I just want her to feel that confidence in her head when she steps on the field.”
The double pairing of Livie Bass and Fenton came from a “gut feeling” that Rahr had when she saw the two of them play together during a training session. She said Bass has a “sixth sense” on the field, while Fenton, who also plays football and basketball, does what it takes to win a point.
“When I saw them both (Wallace and Fenton) as such a great team (last year), I thought, ‘These are great shoes to fill,'” Livie Bass said. “I think everything went well and I’m excited to be here. We’re working on communicating more and more, but I feel like we just have a good team chemistry.”
The Wildcats find a balance, Rahr said, happy off the field and focused on it.
“I’m shocked,” Rahr said. “You talk to them off the pitch, they laugh, fool around, and then you see them on the pitch, it’s like they’s a completely different person, which is good, they have the competitive side. I hope when they play this season. they realize they have put in the work and they deserve to play where they play. “