NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 28, 2014

Triton girls tennis takes a step forward

By Tim Lima
Sports Reporter

---- — BYFIELD — Just six matches into the season, Triton’s girls varsity tennis team has proven that hard work and off-season dedication pay off.

At 5-1, the Vikings have already surpassed their win total from last year. A team built largely of girls who have grown together, Triton has four seniors who have given the program their all.

“Our original goal this season was to make the state tournament,” said Triton head coach Kristin Flaherty. “Now, I think our goal is to win the Cape Ann League title. We have four seniors who are a nice group of girls that have dedicated themselves to being the best players they can be this year. They have worked really hard, and are still working hard, and our record speaks for itself.”

The only blemish this season came at home against Amesbury on a day when Mother Nature had a strong impact. Falling 4-1 to the Indians, Triton’s record as a team fell to 4-1.

“It was a bad day overall,” Flaherty said. “It was freezing. It was windy. The conditions were terrible for everybody and we weren’t on our game that day.”

The greatest teams have the ability to rise from defeat and move on from losses — something that the Vikings did just four days later, despite having to reconfigure their lineup. Because of missing players, Flaherty asked Grace Williams and Laurel White to move from their normal role as doubles players to playing individually at second and third singles. Both were able to pull out wins and help their team to a 3-2 win over Pentucket.

“They rose to the occasion,” Flaherty said. “Two of my current doubles players moved to second and third singles against Pentucket and did great. I see those two girls being singles players for us next year. We were missing two of our key players and beat Pentucket, so that’s something we have taken pride in.”

Though the season has gone very well this year, Flaherty knows that the toughest challenge to date will come this afternoon as the Vikings take on Lynnfield, who remains undefeated at 4-0.

“We are looking forward to the challenge,” Flaherty said. “It will be one of our more challenging matches of the season, absolutely, and we will see how they play. If they play well enough, we can win any match against anyone this season.”

For a team that hasn’t surpassed four wins in Flaherty’s run as Triton’s head coach, the Vikings now find themselves aiming higher and enjoying the level of competition.

“It’s nice that we are competitive enough to play with some really competitive teams,” Flaherty said. “The difference is that the girls played in the offseason. Most of the girls on the other teams play year round, which is what you have to do to be competitive at the high school level.”

While having enjoyed her first two seasons with Triton, Flaherty has grown to particularly like this team.

“They’re nice girls that are all good friends with each other. They spend a lot of time together when they’re not in school. A couple of them even work part time at the raquet club and are constantly playing tennis there. The chemistry is good with them. They’re all nice, kind, bright, lovely girls and I am thrilled to be coaching them.”