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VIDEO: Girls Tennis Team Hopes to Build on Last Year's Success

Second-year coach Claudia Hawkes is getting the high school girls' tennis squad ready for its opener.

While the well-known quote is “Success breeds success,” in the case of the girls tennis team it is “Success breeds popularity.”

Following a strong season in 2010 with first-year coach Claudia Hawkes, the Generals are looking for a repeat. And the team starts off that quest with one of the largest turnouts of players in recent years.

“We actually had to make some cuts,” said Hawkes. “There was a little tension, but everyone wanted to work hard because they didn’t want to be cut.”

Many of the players who have risen to the top already have put in the work in the off-season. Hawkes said she has noticed the players didn’t just pick up their racquet a few hours before practice.

That will help with the consistency Hawkes is stressing. She would prefer the ball stay in play with easy strokes rather than trying to smash winners.

“We want to keep the ball in play as long possible,” said Hawkes, who played tennis collegiately at Auburn University in the difficult Southeastern Conference. “From what I saw last year, as long as you keep the ball in play, you have a chance. You don’t need to be overpowering.”

Probably the one player who can out-muscle her opponent is No. 1 singles player Charlotte Horton. As a sophomore she finished 7-5 last year at second singles.

“(Being No. 1) is a little nerve-racking at first, but I feel confident,” said Horton.

Following Horton in singles will most likely be Bridi Thaggard, a senior, and Caroline Gribbell, a freshman.

The team is still going through challenge matches to see how the doubles pans out, but Hawkes expects seniors Christina Belezos and Katharine Heffernan to be there in the end.

The Generals finished with a 7-5 Cape Ann League record last year. The team feels it has a good shot at the top spot in 2011.

“The league will be very competitive,” said Hawkes. “Last year Manchester-Essex was the toughest, but they lost their number one player. Lynnfield is another strong team. And I know Ipswich good team, too.”

 The seasons gets underway .

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