WOBURN — After finishing the season with a 3-13 regular season mark, the Woburn High girls’ tennis team aims to strive for an improved campaign. With several solid seniors returning from last year’s squad, coach Steve Sullivan is optimistic regarding his team’s chances.
“We have a lot of experience returning from last year’s team,’’ said Sullivan. “I’ve been very pleased with the way the girls have been working hard over the first two weeks of the season, and I’ve been very encouraged with what I’ve seen so far in the challenge matches.”
Leading the way are senior co-captains Amy Salvati and Pam Pereira, who will aim to secure the Tanners No.1 and No.2 positions.
Other returning players with varsity experience include senior Erin Gabriel along with juniors Vanessa Alves, Meghan Werner and Jaclyn Ruble. Another returning player that should see some action in the varsity lineup is from sophomore Tea Natale.
“Salvati and Pereira have a lot of experience and they’ll be returning to the lineup,’’ said Sullivan. “We also have (Gabriel) who should be in the mix as well. We have a solid group of juniors that should be able to see some action in the lineup. We’re still figuring out lineups through challenge matches, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to finalize things by our first match.”
Tentatively slated for the No. 3 position will be Gabriel while Alves, Werner, Mannan and Ruble will round out the final four slots of the starting lineup.
“Nothing is set in stone, but that’s what we’re looking at right now,’’ said Sullivan. “The newcomers have done a great job in pushing our starters. It’s been very competitive and fun to watch as a coach.”
Promising newcomers for the Tanners include senior Seadna Lynch along with juniors Grace Cushing and Caitlin Larney. Other new members of the team include sophomores Sameera Jangala. Forum Chotai and Julia DeOliveira Silva.
“The newcomers are working extremely hard at practice and they’ve been working hard,’’ said Sullivan. “They’ve been putting in the work and it’s definitely been paying off. There are a lot of improvements from the girls over the last two weeks.”
Sullivan is still lining him his starting lineup, but has a veteran squad with experience in both singles and double slots.
“This early in the season we are trying to figure out who will be playing singles and who will be playing doubles,” said Sullivan. “The girls have a great attitude and are eager to get to practice and work on their games each and every day.”
Sullivan has also been pleased with the leadership of the senior captains both on and off the court and how they’ve worked with the younger players on the squad.
“We have had great leadership from our captains and returning players and I am very excited to get the season started and see what we can do,’’ said Sullivan. “I know the girls are going to compete extremely hard and give it everything that they have. Our goal this year just like past years is to go out there each and every match and compete to the best of our ability.”
As for goals of the season, Sullivan expects the Tanners to compete in the Middlesex League and positon themselves hopefully for a spot in the MIAA tournament.
“The Middlesex league has some extremely talented teams including Winchester, Lexington, Reading, Burlington, and Belmont, who year in and year out are very successful in the MIAA state tournament,’’ said Sullivan. “We know the challenges we face playing in a very good league but I know the girls are working hard and looking forward to the season.”
The Tanners will open the season at Wilmington next Wednesday afternoon.
WOBURN BOYS TENNIS PREVIEW
WOBURN — Sean Murphy may have failed to generate a victory in his first season as the Woburn High boys’ tennis coach.
While Tanners finished the season with an 0-16 mark, Murphy is very optimistic of some solid improvements along the way.
Entering his second year as the Tanners’ head coach, Murphy cited that last year was indeed a great learning experience.
“Last year was a great learning experience for me as a coach,” said Murphy. “I had about 11 guys show up to tryouts last year. A couple of them it was their first time playing tennis, so I had a very small, somewhat inexperienced team going into my first year.”
With just one player lost to graduation last year, Murphy was pleasantly surprised to see 28 candidates sign up to play on the tennis squad this season. Combined with experience and promising newcomers, Murphy expects the Tanners to vastly improve from last year.
“All 10 of the returning guys, who played some varsity matches last year, gives this team so much experience going into this year compared to last year,” said Murphy.
Murphy was also quite pleased to see the large amount of interest the program has endured in nearly a decade.
“Seeing this type of interest compared to last year is amazing,’’ said Murphy. “I really want to help grow the program in Woburn and having that type of turnout my second year coaching is just great to see.”
With the sunny weather and lack of precipitation over the first two weeks of the season, the Tanners have already practiced on the outdoor courts in preparing for their challenge matches. The Tanners have also used the indoor facilities of the Woburn Racket Club during the pre-season.
“We are already able to practice outside this week which is fantastic,’’ said Murphy. “Being able to use the indoor courts at the Woburn Racket Club is such a great opportunity for this team. They have an amazing staff over there and are always very accommodating.”
Leading the way for the Tanners will be senior co-captains Aladine Aksadi and Patrick Lee, both of whom are expected to serve as key contributions for the team at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles slots.
Other key returning players include juniors Patrick Doherty, Louden Bolster, Colby Borselli as well as Joey Guarino and Scott Logcher.
Doherty is targeted to return as the No. 3 player while Bolster, Borselli, Guarino and Logcher should solidify the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles’ combinations.
“I have high expectations Aksadi and Lee,’’ said Murphy. “These guys were staples in the starting lineup last year and I expect some solid starts from these two this year.”
With 10 players returning from last year’s squad, combined with some posing newcomers this year, Murphy has a fair amount of expectations from a team that’s struggled to win some matches over the past decade.
“This is such a good group of guys on the team this year that it makes it a joy to coach these players,” said Murphy. “The returning players are starting off where they ended last year in terms of skill level which is amazing. The change I saw from the beginning of last year till the end of the season was truly impressive.”
As for goals and expectations, Murphy is hopeful that the Tanners can be competitive in a tough Middlesex League, generating match victories, while continuing to build the program.
Newcomers to the team include seniors Peter Cole and Renato Russo along with freshmen Yahya Aksadi and Marco Centrella.
“I want this team to be competitive from the start this year,’’ said Murphy. “We ended the season playing great and I want that to continue right into this year as well. Every team in the league is going to be a challenge for us this year.”
Although it remains to be seen playing in a tough league against highly successful programs, hopefully with the depth and experience returning from last year’s team, the Tanners are in for a solid season.
“I think this is going to be a great year for the tennis team,’’ said Murphy. “We have a positive outlook on the year and I think this team has the potential to grow and improve tremendously from last year.”
The Tanners start the season against Wilmington at home on Wednesday.