Story by Stephen Wise, Photo by GoFlashWin
New players are bringing a different element to the girls tennis team this season. After losing four of their eight starters to graduation, Coach Eugenia Hilts has turned to younger players to help fill their roles.
“You know some of them have really stepped up,” Coach Hilts said, “Some of my younger players have stepped up that were in the lower part of the ladder.”
After an offseason with a lot of change personnel-wise, team chemistry can be altered and it can take time for the team to come together and gel.
“We were all really close last year so it’s different this year,” sophomore Megan Barkley said,“We all get along and are friends this year so it’s still fun but it’s an adjustment.”
To be successful as a team, especially one with roster turnover, work has to be put in during the offseason to prepare and excel in the regular season.
“Tennis is such a short season,” Hilts said,“if the players are working during the offseason and going to clinics and taking private lessons, signing up for tournaments, then we tend to do a lot better.”
The captains of the team have been working on creating a welcoming team atmosphere to aid with relationships between players and as a team.
“I always try to stay positive no matter the situation because it’s really important to exemplify the attitude that you want the other players to have,” said senior Morgan Campanella, “I also make sure to include and encourage all of the girls because I want them to feel like they are a part of the team and that every position is just as important as the others.”
Coach Hilts has noticed and appreciated that her senior players have stepped up and helped to prepare the younger players on the team. She says that the inexperience has come into play some, but that the captains are doing what they need to guide the team.
“They get out there and do their best. It’s hard,” said Coach Hilts, “I’ve got my top three always stepping up and doing their job and they give it their all and they go down without a fight. They play really hard.”
Morgan, a captain, says that she doesn’t really feel like it’s pressure that comes with being a captain on a younger team, but more of a leadership experience.
“I wouldn’t say there’s more pressure, but it definitely does make me more self-aware of my attitude on and off the court. If anything, it motivates me because I want to be a role model that others can emulate and look up to,” Morgan said.
Coach Hilts has been impressed so far with how her team has responded. She says that due to lack of experience and potential depth issues, they have exceeded the goals she set for the young team.
“Actually, with losing four of the starters from last year, they’re actually playing better with what they expected, said Coach Hilts, “I’ve been proud of them from losing so many seniors and bouncing back like they have.”
In what will be her last season as a member of the Dutch Fork girls tennis team, Morgan Campanella is sentimental of her time on the team, seeing it as a great part of her Dutch Fork experience.
“I think the hardest part is going to be saying goodbye to the girls on the team and my coaches,” Morgan said. “I have been on the varsity team since my seventh grade year, so the coaches have seen me grow up as a person and a player and I will miss their constant support and encouragement, and the friendships that I have made along the way.”