With six strong wins and two close losses, the girls varsity tennis team has proven itself in the New England prep school league this season. The casual observer might not even notice the fact that the team was rocked by the loss of seven graduating seniors last year.
At the beginning of an unseasonably frigid spring, head coach David Dickinson faced a daunting task—replacing the lost players who were ranked from two to seven on the ladder. Tryouts were held with only three guaranteed returning players: Serena Ainslie ’16, Margaret McGraw ’15 and captain Alyssa Moreau ’14.
Mr. Dickinson was aware of the possibility of a challenging season. “The idea of a long season with a lot of losses was a strong possibility,” he said. This possibility did not trouble him, however, as he added, “I didn’t care about that; I like the game so much that my mantra has always been ‘let’s work to be better players. Let’s not care about wins and losses.’”
After three days of tryouts, Mr. Dickinson and Dr. Bicknell selected seven girls from a group of hopefuls. This group included three graduates of JV tennis– Charlotte Allen ’14, Katherine Heaney ’16 and Olivia Mehm ’14. In addition, the team welcomed Ally Edwards ’17, Gillian O’Connor ’17, Winston Rossetter ’17 and Lauren Sullivan ’16.
The influx of underclass players brought with them new energy but, naturally, unpredictability as well. Mr. Dickinson acknowledged this rather unusual occurrence: “This is possibly the youngest team I have coached in well over a decade.” He further elaborated on the predominantly underclassmen team, saying, “Who cares if we have a lot of losses? It’s kind of fun to have a brand- new team with a lot of young players and to see them develop.”
One upside to having such a young team was noted by Ainslie: “Because it is a younger team, everyone got close really quickly.”
The first two matches of the season have been the only two losses to date for the team. The first match of the season against Kingswood did not technically count as a loss since it was only a scrimmage.
Mr. Dickinson said, “Really, we only suffered one loss. The first loss was against Groton, and I think it was because we were trying to figure out a ladder, trying to figure out ability level, who’s got a head game and who is a head case.”
After suffering the loss to Groton, the team rebounded tremendously, winning every one of its next six matches.