Girls Tennis Breaks into Playoffs
By SARAH SHOICHET
For the first time in years, the girls tennis team has made it to the playoffs.
Girls tennis finished each of their last three seasons with a record of 1-8. But under the tutelage of coach Ashley Buttacavoli, the team placed second in the A-2 league this year with a record of 4-5, earning a playoff berth.
This season, the team’s lineup changed drastically. Many new freshmen were added to the team and some even played on the lineup.
“Getting a new group of freshmen allowed us to bump up certain girls to play at a higher position,” said Anna Sapozhnikov ’20. “At first the change was shocking, but then we made adjustments to work to our advantage.”
The change in the lineup pushed the girls to improve on team bonding and communication. The team’s captain Soleil Robertson ’19 said, “The team got much closer, and we were able to lift each other and support each other.”
Sapozhnikov said during the games, especially the playoffs, “We encouraged the girls to play their best but to also have fun. We knew this experience would be one of a kind, so we had to make it count. We cheered for one another to pump them up, even if they missed a shot, to make them feel confident in getting the next shot.”
The lineup change also improved the communication during doubles matches.
Sapozhnikov explained, “When a girl ran to the side of the court, the second player moved to fill her position until the girl ran back, allowing the game to go much smoother.”
Ms. Buttacavoli’s advice was very helpful, players said. Loulou Krivobok ’20 said the coach “watched our matches closely and gave us great advice for what we should do.”
Robertson said that Ms. Buttacavoli “really put it in our heads that we were going to make it, and it helped us believe in ourselves.”
As the players experienced more victories, their motivation to win grew.
“It made us feel like we had a shot to not be last this year,” said Krivobok. “It made us put in so much more effort and play harder.”
Sapozhnikov said, “Making it to playoffs made the season a whole lot more meaningful and monumental.”
Robertson recalls how intense the game was during the second game of the playoffs. She and the first singles had lost their matches; however, the first and second doubles game was won.
“We all came together,” she said, “to cheer and support the third singles match, and we ended up winning.”