CHATHAM – The only thing that can get rid of the taste of a bad loss is a bounce-back victory. Thankfully, the Monomoy girls tennis team didn’t have to wait long to rebound from its season-opening loss to St. John Paul II.
Just one day after the JP II Lions handed Monomoy a 3-2 loss, the Sharks responded Friday with a 5-0 victory over Rising Tide at Monomoy Middle School, which both MRHS tennis teams have been using while the area surrounding the Brooks Park courts undergoes renovations.
“This was a good bounce-back win, definitely,” Monomoy coach Bill Burke said. “We had a tough match yesterday; it went late, it was dark, windy and cold. St. John Paul is a great team and we came up a little short, but we learned a lot and came out with a good win today.”
While there is stability throughout the Sharks’ lineup — the team returned five of seven starters from last year’s 10-2 team— some girls have found themselves in new positions this spring. That includes Tatiana Malone, a sophomore from Dennis who made the transition from playing first doubles last year to being the top singles player this season.
After suffering a 6-1, 6-2 loss against JP II junior Kara Oldham, Malone earned her first win as a singles player Friday with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Rising Tide junior Katherine Schelling.
“Tatiana, I thought, improved over the offseason and showed me during our practices leading up to the first match that she’s such a great athlete and she has a desire to win,” Burke said. “She has a very quiet demeanor, but don’t let that fool you, she’s very competitive.”
Although Malone acknowledged it’s definitely been a different experience playing singles, she said she’s enjoyed the switch.
“It’s not super tough,” she said. “I always liked singles better, but it’s definitely different not having a partner with me.”
The team’s top doubles pairing — senior Angelica Velasquez and junior Christie Beckley — have been learning to play together on the fly. Like Malone, they bounced back from losing their first match in straight sets to earn a 6-0, 6-0 win against Rising Tide’s first doubles.
“I feel like we were both playing really well today,” Beckley, a Chatham resident, said after the win. “This is our first year playing doubles together, so we’re still kind of trying to get a feel for each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
“We’re definitely working out the chemistry between us,” added Velasquez, a Harwich resident. “I feel like playing [against St. John Paul II], it definitely helped to figure out how we play together.”
Monomoy’s second doubles pairing, senior Jade Kennedy and junior Jocelyn White, earned a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Rising Tide eighth-graders Lily O’Neill and Ellie Thompson. It was the second win for Kennedy and White after they battled back from a first-set loss to win their JP II match, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“Jocelyn moved from North Carolina up here and was immediately able to start on this year’s team,” Burke said. “And Jade, who was close to starting last year, is finally in the starting lineup.”
There is also stability at the other two singles positions with sophomore Lilly Gould and senior Olivia Prisco playing second and third singles, respectively.
When asked what jumps out about this year’s team, Gould was quick to point out how well the players treat each other.
“The group, as a whole, is so nice,” said Gould, a Harwich resident. “I feel like compared to a lot of other tennis clubs or teams that I’ve been a part of, this one just stands out as being so much of a family, so that’s really nice.”
Burke added that in addition to the team’s spirit, Monomoy also possesses a competitiveness throughout the entire roster.
“There are several players that aren’t in the starting lineup right now on the team that want to break into the starting lineup, and there’s probably four players — at least — that could easily be playing on other high school teams right now,” he said. “It’s a big team and they are pretty diverse in their ability and outlooks, but they are all great to one another.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal