After the girls' tennis team advanced to the Div. 3 North semifinals last season, coach Claudia Hawks said, “Being in the semis of states was icing on the cake.”
Now the Generals boast its Nos. 1 and 3 singles players from last year back for another season, as well as both players from the No. 2 doubles team. The expectations are high and the outlook positive.
Senior Charlotte Horton leads the way as the top singles player on the team, and possibly in the Cape Ann League. She will serve as co-captain with Carson Smiley.
Sophomore Caroline Gribbell, who played at No. 3 singles in 2011, also returns.
Horton finished with an overall record of 9-8; Gribbell, who missed some time during the campaign, may have been able to better her already impressive 9-5 mark.
The season could be very successful for the captains who came the closest to scoring points for the Generals in its final match of the season, . Gribbell fell 7-5, 6-4 and Horton dropped a 6-2, 6-3 decision.
Hawkes enters her third season as the head coach at Hamilton-Wenham. The 2011 squad finished with am 8-6 record, 10-7 including its playoff run.
The team won its season opener on Monday over Bishop Fenwick 3-2. Horton defeated Meghan McCarthy, 7-6, 2-6, 6-1; Gribbell defeated Meredith MaGuire, 6-0, 6-0; Fenwick's Demitra Velonis defeated Carson Smiley 6-1, 6-2.
In doubles, Fenwick's No. 1 team of Sarah Kanarkiewickz and Jessica Griffin defeated Allie Whelan and Marie Baratto, 6-2, 6-4. At No. 2 doubles, Hamilton-Wenham's Caroline Flores and Colleen Ford defeated Colleen Sears and Amanda Ness 6-1, 6-0.
"The girls adjusted well to the challenging side-wind," Hawkes said about the season-opener. "Charlotte had a close three-setter but prevailed with a strong 6-1 third set win. Caroline Gribbell looked very strong and confident and did not allow her opponent one game."
Hawkes said she is still working on putting together the best pairings for the doubles teams.
"We are fortunate to have a lot of depth on this team and several very strong newcomers to round out the squad," Hawkes said.
Whelan and Flores certainly will be in the varsity lineup. The tandem, both juniors, combined to be the regular No. 2 doubles team last year. They completed 2011 with an 11-5 record, one of the best on the team.
Some of the newcomers expected to battle for varsity spots include Barratto, Jessie Goldbert and Katie Domoracki.
On Wednesday, the team travels to Cape Ann to faces last year's state champion Manchester-Essex Regional High School.
"They have a formidable No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles team," Hawkes said.