When the girls’ varsity tennis team met up in late August to prepare for the upcoming season, the girls were determined to work hard and make their season as successful as possible. Little did they know, however, that two months later, they would finish their season 13-1 and become regular-season division champions.
“I’m proud of this year regardless of our undefeated record,” said Coach Bradley Krauz. “I am proud of the girls for the way they practiced and for the energy and atmosphere that they brought to the team every day.”
Becoming division champions is no easy task; it requires hard work and determination from all members of the team. At the beginning of practice every day, the girls warm up with at least 50 mini-tennis forehands and backhands, 50 shots from the base line, 50 volleys, 20 serves, and 10 overheads. After their warm up, the players participate in a series of drills — each aimed to improve a specific part of her game — and occasional matches against their teammates where they play against one another for a position in the starting lineup.
Beside hard work, another reason the girls have been so successful this year involves a strategy that emphasizes doubles play. Because each match consists of three singles games and four doubles games, winning the doubles games means winning the match. In doubles games, communication with one’s partner is key. “You have to get to know each other really well,” said junior Haarika Reddy, who was first doubles this year with junior Emily Bae. “It’s different from other sports in that sense.” Both Reddy and Bae attribute their success this year to strong communication. Reddy noticed that their opponents don’t speak on the court nearly as much as she and Bae do.
Sophomore Parker Spector-Salwen also believes that communication with her partner has helped her win many games. “Being able to talk and connect with each other made us feel more comfortable during our matches,” Spector-Salwen said. Feeling comfortable with each other has also helped them figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, Spector-Salwen believes that she is “better at volleying at the net” while her partner “is better at hitting groundstrokes from the baseline.”
Despite the hard work the players put in at practice, the girls also put emphasis on having fun. For many of the girls, playing the sport they love with the people they love is the best part of the experience. For example, Reddy said that her favorite memory of the season was going to the Seven Seas Diner with her teammates after a match. When asked why, Reddy responded, “What happens at Seven Seas stays at Seven Seas.” Getting to know her teammates off the court has inadvertently helped her increase communication with them on the court.
As his team looks forward to competing in the playoffs, Coach Krauz said that the biggest challenge will be “to get the team to be able to compete competitively with the top four or five teams in Nassau County.” Ultimately, however, all he ever wants for his players is for them to have a lot of fun while having a great team experience. To him, winning is just a bonus.