Last spring, many felt that Newburyport’s Chris Kirkpatrick and Pentucket’s Coli Downey had been robbed when they weren’t named Cape Ann League Player of the Year. Each had only one loss all season, beating most of the league’s best players, but wound up losing out to older, more experienced players.
This year, they didn’t leave any room for doubt.
Kirkpatrick and Downey each finished the season undefeated in team play, winning nearly every match they played in straight sets. After the year, they were each named to the CAL’s All-League team and won CAL Player of the Year. By virtually every measurement, they were the two best players in both the league and in the region this past season, so for that, the Daily News is proud to honor Kirkpatrick and Downey as its 2014 Tennis Players of the Year.
As a senior captain, Kirkpatrick dominated his competition even though the rest of his team often struggled. The highlight of his season came on April 28, when he beat Manchester Essex’s Mike Fuca in straight sets, winning 6-3, 6-1. Fuca was also an All-League selection, and he was the top player on a Manchester Essex team that went 16-0 in the regular season to run away with the league championship.
For Kirkpatrick, the successful senior season was a fitting end to a high school career that he dedicated solely to tennis.
Similarly, Downey reached new heights in her junior season, helping lead the Sachems to a 9-8 regular season record and an appearance in the state tournament.
“It was a pleasure to coach her this year, it was really my job not to teach her how to play tennis, it was more just to reassure her of her abilities and keep her confidence up,” said Pentucket coach Billy Beaton. “Keep her focused on what she had to do, but other than that she made my job easy as a coach because she put her work in.”