By Tim Lima
---- — NEWBURYPORT — While fun to bask in the glory of championship-caliber teams, it is often as interesting to watch a team rebuild. With just one combined win last season, the Newburyport High Tennis program is aiming for growth.
While eager to begin anew, the boys and girls teams have had to wait for Mother Nature’s cooperation. Because of the recent resurfacing of the tennis courts, snow could not be physically removed and practice has had to begin indoors.
Despite being restricted through the season’s opening weeks, the Clippers varsity girls team has already grown together as a tight-knit group under second-year head coach Becca Quarantiello.
“We are a unit and a little team family, as one of my captains said at practice today,” Quarantiello said. “For the group, our goal is to be better than we were last year. I feel like we have a good team heading into this year and have grown up since last year. We are excited to have a whole season ahead of us.”
After winning just once last year, Quarantiello looks to use knowledge acquired from coaching and playing the sport to help her team improve. In fact, along with playing four years of tennis at Newburyport High School, she also began coaching at summer camps at the age of 16 before playing at the collegiate level. With just one senior on her team this year, her many years of experience should provide a young team the opportunity for years of growth.
The Clippers will begin their 2014 campaign tomorrow afternoon at Danvers High School.
The boys team, on the other hand, won’t begin its season until the following Monday at Amesbury High School, and the Clippers will be looking for its first win since 2012. Under the tutelage of head coach Courtney Gilman, who is in his third year with the Clippers, growth remains the primary focus.
While looking to make waves this season, much of the attention appears to be on 2015. With several juniors on the team about to have a full second year of experience, a senior-heavy team next season could see a strong season.
“Our No. 1 singles player is back and our No. 3 singles player is back, as are three of our doubles players,” Gilman said. “So we have five returning players, as well as three newcomers who have never played before.”
Team unity and focus was the strength of a largely inexperienced team last year, something that only promises to be improved this season.