Girls’ Tennis Squad Strives For More Than Winning Success
On the top of the list of goals for Coach Maureen Maher, along with qualifying for the South-West Conference tournament, is for her Newtown High School girls’ tennis team to be recognized for its efforts off the court itself.
“Our goals this year are to be in the top four of the SWCs and to bring home the (SWC) Sportsmanship Award for girls tennis,” Maher said.
Maher’s squad has the collective personality it takes to achieve the latter, she believes.
“The girls on the team are all so kind and good to each other. They have a very nice bond with each other, which makes for a great camaraderie. It is a lot of fun to be around all of them,” Maher said.
As for the former, Maher and the Nighthawks have been working to get into match shape so they can be at their best as the Hawks get ready to take on three-time SWC champion Weston, a Joel Barlow of Redding squad that has finished runner-up each of the past three years, and the rest of the conference.
“Getting the girls in physical shape is always a priority at the beginning of the season as well. Most of the girls have played over the winter but have not been conditioning. We are focusing footwork, quickness, strong core, longevity — all the tools needed for a strong player,” Maher said.
Last year, the Nighthawks went 11-4 and qualified for the conference tourney.
The Nighthawks will be led by junior captains Marie Ann Tomaj and Amanda Conrod.
Returnees include Peyton Bradley, Mary Celentano, Julia Clark, Julia Dolan, Julia Klein, Jennifer Lorenz, and Katerina Rosen.
They lost five players to graduation but bring in five newcomers. Freshman Amelia Hufschmied may be new to high school tennis, but she has extensive playing experience. Senior Julia Clark and sophomores Ava Berry, Reign Bernard, and Adisa Gjonbalaj also join the mix.
Of course, it is not as simple as just plugging five holes left by grads.
“We have a lot of work to do to place the girls with the right partner if they are going to be playing doubles and creating a strong singles ladder. This is always the tricky part at the beginning of the season. It is like a puzzle,” Maher said as preseason unfolded this past week.
“Our strengths this season are good depth to our team. We have a lot of returning players that have worked hard offseason,” the coach added. “We also are so lucky to have Nancy Anderson back as the assistant coach. She brings such knowledge and love of this game. She is very involved in the instruction and the conditioning of the girls. Having two coaches on the court in preseason is such an advantage, since there is not a lot of time between the weather and sharing the courts with the boys’ team for practice time. This is a definite strength for our team.”
The season gets started with a Tuesday, April 2 visit to Joel Barlow at 3:45 pm. NHS hosts Pomperaug of Southbury two days later, also at 3:45 pm.