Senior Leadership, Team Chemistry Paving Way For Nauset Girls Tennis

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: School Sports , Tennis

Nauset senior Alex Lily waits for a serve in her second singles match Friday against Martha's Vineyard. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

NORTH EASTHAM – The Nauset girls tennis team isn’t going to let a singular win or loss alter its identity. Whether the Warriors play at home or travel to a road match, the outcome isn’t going to change the makeup of the team.

“We have a strong group, but we do need to learn some things,” Nauset coach Kathleen Tringale said after her team dropped to 1-4 on the season following Friday’s 3-2 loss to unbeaten Martha’s Vineyard. “The greatest thing about them is they’re so kind and just great to coach. They make it fun — so that, for me, is the greatest thing.”

Tringale praised the team’s four senior captains — identical twin sisters Alex and Frankie Lily, Charlotte Smith and Mia Phillips — for the way they have led the team thus far. While the seniors are the team’s core, sophomore Nicole Boyce has contributed at first singles, and sophomore Jill Ernstrom and junior Cristin Schadt have done the same at first doubles.

On Friday, it was Lela Bailey who played alongside Smith and earned a 6-0, 6-0 victory in second doubles, joining Frankie Lily, who earned a 6-1, 6-3 win, as the Warriors’ lone winners against the Vineyard.

Even though the team has earned just one victory, Tringale said she can see improvements being made.

“We’re getting better,” she said. “We had a little bit of a slump because we were missing some girls for various reasons, but everyone seems to be back, so we’re looking forward to being a little more competitive. And a lot of girls are getting a chance to play.”

Alongside Boyce at first singles, the Lily twins occupy the next two singles positions. They often play on courts adjacent to one another, which can make it a little tricky for their coach to decipher who’s who.

“To be perfectly honest, I’m finally figuring out which one is which without having to look and see who’s the righty and who’s the lefty,” Tringale said of the twins from South Yarmouth.

“I’m a lefty, she’s a righty,” Alex Lily said moments later.

“Which is why we don’t play doubles,” Frankie interjected. “It would be a mess.”

Tringale was also quick to credit Smith and Phillips for their contributions at doubles.

“Charlotte Smith has really stepped up,” the coach said. “This is the first year she’s really been playing consistently at the varsity level, so it’s been a nice change for us. And then our other senior [Mia Phillips] has really been coming along, too. It’s nice because I can interchange them at doubles.”

For the seniors, this spring has offered a nice change of pace after COVID-19 dominated the conversation the past two seasons, the first of which was canceled entirely at the outset of the pandemic in 2020.

Even though the team posted a 5-6 record a year ago, Smith said this season has provided a level of connection that wasn’t tangible since the group arrived at Nauset as freshmen.

“It’s been fun to be together as a team again because we haven’t really had that in a few years, since freshmen year,” said Smith, a Harwich resident. “Now it’s a completely new team and we’re seniors and there’s new people. It’s been fun.”

“It’s been really nice,” added Phillips, a Provincetown resident. “The weather has been really good and watching the games has been really fun.”

The seniors said it was tennis that brought them closer together, both on and off the court, as freshmen. What they once viewed as a team now feels stronger than that, more like a community, according to Alex Lily, who noted the season has been enjoyable independent of the team’s wins and losses.

“The season so far has been great,” Alex Lily said. “Everyone is so nice, and I think with the tennis team it’s more of a community. Even if we don’t win all of the time, it’s still fun to get out there and play.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com.

Twitter: @BradJoyal