When tournament pairings come out some coaches and players quickly run to the computer and attempt to find out as much as they can on their opponent.
girls tennis coach Claudia Hawkes used to do that. Not anymore.
Last year, prior to playing Bishop Fenwick in the Div. 3 North tournament, the team found out that the No. 1 seed was undefeated in its league. It sent nerves up and down the players and coach.
The result: , where .
“I don’t want to psych myself out or the girls,” said Hawkes. “When I saw that Bishop Fenwick was undefeated in their league we all worried. I didn’t like that feeling. When you find out about the other team you might be overly nervous or tight. You might already think the other team is better than you.”
This year 6th-seeded Hamilton-Wenham (9-5, 7-4 in Cape Ann League) opens the playoffs by hosting 11th-seeded Stoneham on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The match was originally slated to be played at but on Friday was moved to Bass River Tennis, an indoor facility in Beverly.
This year’s squad boasts a potent 1-2 punch at first and second singles with senior Charlotte Horton and sophomore Caroline Gribbell. While Horton may not have finished with a sparkling record, playing at first singles means she can often play some of the best players in the state. She always is in her match and can win on any day. Gribbell, on the other hand, also plays strong competition, but she sported a 12-2 record this season.
“Charlotte plays a tough match every single time she goes out there. And Caroline is super athletic and super competitive,” Hawkes said.
Marie Baratto, an exchange student from Belgium, filled in the third singles spot rather nicely.
First doubles may have been the most pleasant surprise for Hamilton-Wenham with a 6-6 record. Caroline Flores moved up from second doubles last year, and Colleen Ford was on the JV squad.
“It’s not too shabby of a record considering how much they’ve improved and where they were last year,” Hawkes said. “Number 1 doubles is like number 1 singles – they always will have a tough match.”
Second doubles was a guessing game much of the season. Carson Smiley played in all the matches but her early season partner, Allie Whelan, has battled injury and sickness throughout the campaign. Smiley’s partners have included Jessie Goldberg, Katie Domoracki, Darby Mackintosh, Caroline Fallon and Carrie Goodrich.
Smiley and Domoracki will pair up for Saturday’s match.
“We have such a strong JV team that there hasn’t been much of a difference (between second doubles players),” Hawkes said.
The Generals finished tied for third in Cape Ann League Division 2 with Ipswich, a possible opponent down the road in the tournament. Big wins this year against North Andover and Pentucket - teams they fell to in 2011 – should bode well against the strong competition.