Julia Dolan: An Ace In The Classroom And Tennis Court
It may not be a coincidence that Newtown High School’s valedictorian was also the No. 1 singles player on her tennis team this past spring.
Julia Dolan, a straight A (make that A-plus, even taking four AP classes), Harvard University-bound student was also an ace on the tennis court and held down the top singles spot throughout this spring.
“When she gets on the court she doesn’t like to lose, and that’s how she is with her studies,” said Assistant Coach Maureen Maher, who was the head coach of the Nighthawks in Dolan’s first two high school seasons (her junior season was canceled due to the coronavirus).
In tennis, the best player is matched up against other teams’ standouts, making for ultra-tough matches day in and day out. Despite this, Dolan excelled. She racked up victories in helping the team win the South-West Conference’s Colonial Division. Individually, Dolan went on to reach the SWC tournament semifinals this spring.
Dolan enjoys facing standout competition, and was always a candidate to push opponents to the maximum three sets even if she dropped the first one in a given match.
“I like the challenge of being able to come back when I’m down,” Dolan said. “I take my time when I play tennis. When I’m down I don’t rush myself.”
“If she’s down, she comes back for two more. If she’s down, she digs deeper,” Head Coach Nancy Anderson added.
Anderson and Maher note that Dolan’s competitiveness on the court coupled with her personality made her a strong leader, and she was captain this past campaign. Dolan served as a good role model to her teammates because of her poise, her Nighthawk coaches said.
This tennis standout’s passion on the court might be a bit of a surprise, given her demeanor off the playing surface.
“She’s very quiet, very kind,” Maher said.
Dolan’s path to the top of the lineup ladder may not have been one most tennis players take. When she was learning the game as a middle school student, rather than utilize expensive private lessons, Dolan practiced on her own and with assistance from family friends Drew Arnold and Greg Steiner. Social players, they worked with Dolan on her court skills and even took her to watch the Nighthawks while she a year or two away from going to high school, Maher said.
“She was the only player, out of all my years coaching, who came to watch matches,” said Maher, who has coached 17 years with the high school squad. “I said, ‘She is going to be good for this team.’”
Maher certainly was right about that.
Dolan went from courtside fan to high school starter. She emerged as the top singles player after a couple of successful runs in doubles play during her first two years of high school. In her sophomore year, Dolan and partner Julia Klein won the South-West Conference’s No. 1 doubles championship. She and Jen Lorenz were third doubles runner-ups as freshmen and were an off-court tandem this year as co-captains their senior season.
Dolan said she never envisioned her high school career unfolding as it did.
“My goal was just to make the team,” the 2021 graduate said, reflecting on her mindset when she started playing tennis only a handful of years ago.
Outside of tennis, Dolan belonged to the NHS Debate Team and was its captain this year. She enjoys hanging out with her friends as well as her birds, Stretch and Pearl.
Dolan finished with a grade point average above 5 and will study economics at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. She is looking forward to meeting new people and embarking on the next chapter of her life.
Tennis will continue to be a part of Dolan’s life, and she hopes to play her sport at the club level in college.
“I’m excited to get some independence,” she said. “I’m just excited to experience something new.”
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.