When your entire family plays tennis, it can be difficult to stand out. But Merrimac’s Olivia Colby has found a way to do, and the Pentucket girls tennis team has reaped the benefit.
Playing her first season of varsity tennis, the sophomore has anchored the No. 1 singles position, and even against the Cape Ann League’s best, Colby is more than holding her own. She is undefeated through four matches this spring, including wins against strong Newburyport and Amesbury squads, thanks to a strong serve and her preference to win points quickly.
Playing on the team is a brand new experience for Colby, who up to this point has played the tournament circuit representing the Manchester Athletic Club (MAC).
“It’s amazing,” said Colby. “I’ve never really been on a tennis team before. During all my matches, you just hear everyone cheering you on. Everyone is so supportive and loving. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. I love being on the team so much.”
Tennis runs in the Colby family. She has five siblings, and all of them have played the sport at some point. Their father, Dave, is the Director of Tennis and Camp Director at the MAC and has a strong background in the development of youth tennis programs. Picking up the sport was one way that the Colby kids got to spend time with their dad growing up.
“It’s part of my childhood,” said Colby. “All of us had to play tennis growing up and we could decide how far we wanted to go with it. So we all know how to play.”
Her development as a player was helped by having a family full of practice partners. But what kept her playing the sport was an eagerness to improve and the self-determination it takes to play a sport where you are often out there all alone.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot from playing tennis,” said Colby. “It’s so satisfying to know you succeeded by yourself. I feel like I can make see my own growth. Every time I play, I can see how much like I’ve grown and improved since last time.”
The individual nature of the sport may have captured Colby’s attention, but playing for Pentucket has added a new layer onto her enjoyment.
“I didn’t really know what it was going to be like at all because I never really had any experience like this,” said Colby. “I just like the environment. I’m making so many new friends that I never thought that I would have. It’s really amazing to be on the team.”
Colby hopes that her high school career won’t be the last opportunity she gets to play on a team. Although it is still early, Colby has her eyes set on continuing her tennis career collegiately.
“I would like to a scholarship to go to college and play,” said Colby. “But I also would just be able to play as I get older. It’s a sport you can play for the rest of my life.”
The seemingly continuous rain may be putting a damper on Pentucket’s girls tennis season, postponing four of their matches so far. But Colby believes that once the Sachems are able to take the court more often, they will continue to make inroads in the CAL.
“We’re 2-2 right now and I would say we’re doing really well,” said Colby. “We have a really strong team. We all support each other, and we’re all friends so that’s helping us improve. I think we’re gonna do a really good job.”
Back to full strength
Longtime Pentucket tennis standout Maggie Aulson was one of the stories of the spring last year when she continued to play varsity tennis for the Sachems despite undergoing treatment for cancer. She went on to beat the disease and is now back on the court again for her sixth season of varsity tennis, primarily playing at the No. 2 singles spot. She is 3-1 on the year, most recently winning against Ipswich in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.