The girls tennis team huddle after a game. Photo by Joey Vo.
Malden High’s Girls Tennis team are anticipating the end of the season. There are only a few more matches to go, which could make or break the team, as they have a close record of 7-7.
The season was marked by several disadvantages, such as competing against tough teams, missing key players, and meet cancellations due to weather. However, they were able to pull through despite the issues, learning how to encourage each other to maintain the overall confidence of the team.
The team was able to improve on certain aspects as the season progressed. To senior captain Nikita Puri, the team has grown to be able to better “handle the losses” and gain confidence through their wins. To junior Keri Gilligan, the team was able to improve their “overall skill set.” She adds that the team possesses “some great talent” and believes that each player improved their skill “in some area or another.” However, there is still room for more improvement on areas such as skill, technique, and communication, according to senior captain Nicole Chen. They still have time to work on those areas during the upcoming practices, along with the next few games.
The team has endured challenging matches this season. An example was the North Reading game, according to Gilligan. Puri says that the North Reading team is “competitive” and already achieved the goal of making it to the State tournament, an success Malden has not been able to achieve yet. The game against Lynn Classical is also a notable mention. Chen says that the game was challenging since Malden was able to beat Lynn Classical previously. They were able to pull a victory, with a score of 4-1.
For Gilligan, the most challenging and the most rewarding games are not mutually exclusive. Puri agrees, saying that every game was rewarding because it offered them a “learning experience” even when they lost. Some examples are the games against aforementioned Lynn Classical, Somerville, Revere, and Triton. Gilligan was the “underdog” against Lynn Classical and Triton, as played a strong game and was able to prove her own achievement and pride for Malden. She adds that the games against the latter two allowed her to make a comeback, to the point where she “even surprised [herself].” To Gilligan, self-discipline and motivation are just as essential as skill and strategy, which she proved to have in these games.
The leadership of captains is another positive aspect of the season. The team is smaller than it was during the previous years, which helped the captains grow close and communicate more with the rest of the team. Gilligan says that she was able to grow close with Chen, due to playing with her often during practice and “seeing how [Chen] played a part in leading [their] team.”
The team’s goal is to win the upcoming games and “make the best out of the season,” says Puri. Gilligan is hopeful that this season will be a step in having a successful season next year, despite the loss of the seniors. She adds that they can see the potential to come out next season with a winning record. Chen remarks that the team “never gives up” and “always puts up a fight,” which could make the goals for next year become reality.