Boys Tennis Team Ends Season Off as Second in the GBL

As Malden Boys Tennis wraps up its inaugural season after a two-season hiatus due to Covid, it’s time to reflect on their season and look forward to the next season.

The overall season for Malden Tennis was a success for both the girls and boys teams as they eclipsed six or more wins. Along with this, the Malden boys finished second in the GBL with a final record of 7-5, just behind Somerville who notched a record of 7-2 and took the GBL title.

Head Coach Mark Gagnon expressed how the team was trying to “have fun, especially after a couple of years of Covid.” He continued by saying “we haven't been able to have a full season in a while, so we aren't taking it for granted that we're able to actually get together and play for the first time in three years. I think this is sort of what the whole team has felt too by being able to play with each other.”

Gagnon thought “the competition between each other,” was something that really fueled the players during practices so they could improve their own game along with helping each other out. “The challenge matches within the team show some healthy competition where the kids were able to show how much they've improved. You can tell which kids have been working hard and practicing, serving, doing all the drills, and putting in a little extra time. They've all improved, but some have improved a little more, so it's fun to see that when you win as a coach.”

One of the things that Gagnon thought the team could improve on was when they were playing doubles. “Usually the doubles teams are newer, but in doubles, you really have to be able to move together. You really got to play for a long time with the person next to you,” said Gagnon. 

Playing time was the main problem Gagnon described for the doubles teams. “I think if our doubles teams had more playing time with each other, we definitely would've beaten Somerville and maybe even Cambridge.”

With some extra playing time during the offseason, Gagnon thinks that the team could improve to the point that they could become GBL champions and not lose all the practice and hard work they’ve already put into the last few months. 

Even with all the extra work they can put into the offseason, the team is already losing two of their better players. Despite this, Gagnon still encourages confidence in the team to do well next year. “We're losing two big pieces in Nam Doan and Davit Chobanyan, but we still have our first player coming back along with all our freshmen. We have around 10-15 possible freshmen returning who would now have one year under their belts so we're looking pretty good going ahead.”

Senior Captain Nam Doan's favorite part about being a captain this year was “being able to see everyone improve as a team.”

Doan enjoyed the parts of the season where he was able to be in positions to “win a couple of intense matches,” and for the team was “when we all gather to watch the deciding match.”

Since Doan is a senior and will be graduating this June, he looked back on the time he has spent with the team and the memories he’ll cherish. Doan talked about how he’ll remember “doing fun and dumb stuff during practice (all while working hard of course), the bus rides, how obnoxious we get around each other and overall winning with each other. 

Edmond Chen, a junior, mentioned how “this year was the first for many in boys tennis, including myself, so I think I was really sloppy at first,” and one of his struggles was “hitting the ball with too much force and getting it out.” With all of his struggles, Chen said “the coaches and captains fostered a very welcoming environment where it was okay to mess up as long as you learn from it,” which helped build “good chemistry” with his teammates.

The season highlights for Chen were being able to learn from players such as Junior Captain Naveen Nemalapuri and when the team was able to bond with each other in and out of games. “We like to have a lot of fun. Sometimes we play capture the flag, goof around on the bus, and etc to strengthen our team bond. There have been games where we literally lift our teammates up to congratulate them on our win, this team, in general, is just so encouraging.”

Chen talked about how he wants to use the success of his peers as motivation to help him improve his game for the next season. After watching players such as Doan, Nemalapuri and Chobanyan, they “inspire [him] to try harder and push [himself].” He continued saying “This year I’ve mastered the basics of tennis, but next year I really want to start splicing, quick serving, and more so I can improve my performance in varsity next year.”

“Next season I’m mostly looking forward to seeing everyone again. Everyone on this team is so sweet and so kind I can’t wait to see them again. I’m looking forward to winning,” said Chen.

With the end of the season now past the Malden boys tennis team, Chen has placed a lofty goal for himself and the team with hopes of an “undefeated season,” that they’ll “do together as a team.”

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