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Raising a racket

April 13, 2017

As the spring season gets underway, these two racket-using teams set their eyes on swinging toward success

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Tennis sets up for improvement

After a disappointing season last year, with a record of 1-5, men’s tennis is looking to rebuild their team with a few stand-out upperclassmen and skilled underclassmen players.

According to assistant coach Rodney Johnson, the team has multiple members that he feels will help secure valuable wins this season.

“[Senior doubles players] Andrew Kappel and Daniel Robinson are our No. 1 doubles team. I think their natural athleticism will make them dangerous in the B Conference this year,” he said. Johnson also believes that the No. 2 doubles team, juniors Stevie Lutche and Hunter Peverley, will be successful this season.

Lutche has high hopes for himself and his partner this season. “We are working towards a perfect season with no losses,” Lutche said.

Along with these new additions, Kappel has improved his skills by playing with friends and family during the off-season and working to make his serve more accurate.

Kappel is also optimistic about the new members of the team coming in this year. “I’m excited for this year’s season. We have some good young players coming in and should be able to do well in our conference because our team has a lot of athletic players on the team,” Kappel said.

One new addition to the team is freshman Cameron Mezzatesta who has taken tennis lessons since age 7 and is confident he can make an impact on the team. “My expectations for this year are to beat some of those big schools and for the team to do their best,” Mezzatesta said.

Lutche believes that St. Mary’s High School and Glenelg Country School will be their toughest opponents. However, he set his expectations for the season high. The varsity team hopes to regroup to make a run in the MIAA. “As a team, we are trying to make it to the playoffs and win a championship,” Lutche said.

Grant Sharretts is the Online Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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Badminton smashes competition

Junior+Lily+Chen+reaches+to+hit+the+birdie+during+a+singles+match+against+Maryvale+on+Friday%2C+March+24.+Chen+went+undefeated+last+season+and+won+the+IAAM+Singles+Championship.
Junior Lily Chen reaches to hit the birdie during a singles match against Maryvale on Friday, March 24. Chen went undefeated last season and won the IAAM Singles Championship.

Junior Lily Chen reaches to hit the birdie during a singles match against Maryvale on Friday, March 24. Chen went undefeated last season and won the IAAM Singles Championship.

Allie Taylor

Allie Taylor

Junior Lily Chen reaches to hit the birdie during a singles match against Maryvale on Friday, March 24. Chen went undefeated last season and won the IAAM Singles Championship.

In the third game of last year’s championship badminton match, junior Lily Chen remembers being nervous, but confident. She had spent the whole season preparing for the match, and had just come off of a shoulder injury when she stepped onto the court. After an exhausting game, Chen prevailed with a win, and to her pride and amazement, became an individual champion, significantly improving her team’s overall score.

After coming in second place in last season’s tournament, the badminton team is looking to win the championship this year. “The goal is always to try to win the B Conference championship, and in order to do that, we try to do our best during the season,” badminton head coach Tess Gauthier said.

“There’s no real season champion, it all comes down to the individuals playing in the tournament, and so the more points you get, then they add all those points up and you have a champion.”

After going undefeated last season, Chen won the IAAM B Conference Championship for badminton singles. It’s a title she’s proud of and wants to maintain this season. “I wish I could keep the rank and have an undefeated season again,” Chen said. “If you win once, you don’t want someone to take it from you.”

Chen’s win contributed to the team’s second-place title last season, along with the doubles team of seniors Emily Schiavone and Giana Liberatore, who placed second in B Conference doubles. “It was incredibly thrilling. Giana and I were so excited,” Schiavone said. “This year we want to win so bad, and if we win we’ll be absolutely thrilled because our freshman year the varsity team won.”

This year, there are high hopes for a championship season not only for the singles and doubles teams, but also for the team as a whole. “It’s always a possibility because whenever we haven’t won it’s always been by a close number,” Gauthier said. “We played St. Paul’s, and they moved down from the A Conference to the B Conference this year. They said they scrimmaged a couple A [Conference] schools and did really well against them, and we beat them 4-3, so that’s promising.”

Although the 11 players on varsity are consistent throughout the season, there are 26 players who rotate through 11 spots on JV. “You have more leeway from match to match because the JV [team] doesn’t participate in a tournament,” Gauthier said.

Some of the JV players may not have spots in many matches this season, but they are preparing to play significant roles in later seasons. “My advice to them is that I want them to play as hard as they can in practice so they get better. Particularly younger players, the freshmen and some of the new sophomores, so that they have the opportunity to replace those who graduate this year,” Gauthier said.

Chen believes the team will work to improve from last year’s performance. “I’m excited to compete with Oldfields because last time I think we lost, so I want to play against them and maybe get a win even if it’s just a match,” Chen said.

It’s fun to be at such a big event that recognizes what people would think is a small sport.”

— Emily Schiavone

Beyond championship aspirations, the team is anticipating having a fun season together. “We’re all super excited, it’s a very energetic sport and everyone’s laughing and really happy during it, so I think everyone wants to win, but they’re also having fun within themselves,” Schiavone said.

Schiavone is also excited for the championship tournament at the end of the season. “I love the tournament, I think it’s so fun,” she said. “It’s fun to be at such a big event that recognizes what people would think is a small sport.”

The tournament is not only where the champions are awarded, but also where the IAAM B Conference All-Conference team is announced. The team hopes that a few players will make the team this year. Last season, four players made All-Conference, the highest number of students from any one school. These players were Chen, Schiavone, Liberatore, and senior Erin McCaughey.

In order for the team’s hard work to pay off, they must do well in all of their matches to get a good seed at the tournament. “Hopefully everybody’s able to make every match. That’s what’s really important,” Gauthier said.

Christina Giovanazi is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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