Coming off consecutive seasons in which they captured South-West Conference championships, the Newtown High School girls’ tennis team will rely on a somewhat new group of players to stay at the top.
The Nighthawks, who went 15-1 in the regular season before successfully defending its SWC crown, then reaching the state tournament’s semifinals, lost eight players from a year ago. Four graduated and two each were claimed through moves out of town and opting not to play.
Nine-year Coach Maureen Maher will lean on the leadership of captains Annie Beier, Julia Frattaroli, and Mia Terracino.
As the preseason wrapped up this past week, Maher was mixing and matching her six returnees and six new players to create her early season lineup.
“Even though we lost a lot of players, we are still a very strong team. I have 12 girls on the team this year and all are solid players — strong singles players and experienced doubles players,” Maher said.
While every year brings new surprises in tennis, and one or two new solid players can be big difference makers on teams, Maher expects usual suspects Weston and Joel Barlow of Redding to be among the most challenging in the conference. Lauralton Hall of Milford always seems to give the Nighthawks a run for their money, too, the coach said.
“We are coming off the best team Newtown girls’ tennis has possibly ever had. We were so strong from first singles straight through all our doubles,” said Maher, whose team swept its way through the competition en route to claiming every title in the SWC’s individual tourney last year. “Losing eight girls is tough. Some doubles players lost partners they’ve had for three years. New year, new challenges, and new growth along with new challenges. It’s very exciting.”
And it’s under way this week. After an April 9 visit to Weston, the Nighthawks will host New Fairfield on Friday, April 11, when the Rebels to town for a 3:45 pm match.