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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Norwood Boys Tennis Still Looking to Rebuild

junior Tyler Lovell and sophomore Patrick Ibrahim; freshman Partha Jammalamadaka; freshman Juneau Joe.

By Christopher Tremblay



The Norwood boy’s tennis has not been able to produce a tournament team in some years and when they found themselves on the verge of finally breaking through, Covid struck and sent the team whirling backwards yet again.
“The last couple of years have hit this team hard,” Norwood Coach John Churchill said. “We missed out on a peak 2020 season, which most likely would have been the best team in the history of the program. That team, I think, would have been a solid playoff team (posting a season over .500), which is something this program has never produced. It just wasn’t about losing the seniors who didn’t have a chance of making the tournament, but even more painful, was the lack of development to the underclassmen who couldn’t learn from them.”
When the Mustangs took to the court last spring, they unfortunately returned twith one remaining starter in Will Fehm, who eventually went 7-8 at the number one singles position in the Tri-Valley League (TVL) and was named to the All-Star team. Fehm was the glue of the team and Churchill tried once again to build a team around him.
Norwood was able to capture four wins last year and started developing some success with its other positions and even had their first-ever playoff match.
“We were given the opportunity to attend our first playoff match, so we opted in to give it a try,” the Mustang Coach said. “We went up against a more experienced team in Bishop Feehan (the #5 seed who eventually went to the Semi Finals and lost to the State Champion Duxbury) and ended up losing.”
The Mustangs were outmatched but Churchill was looking to give his team the experience of what it would be like to play in a tournament atmosphere. Fehm played his heart out in one of his best matches ever but fell in a heartbreaker to Bishop Feehan’s top player.
Coming into this season, Norwood said goodbye to all three of its seniors from the 2021 campaign in addition to a couple of other athletes who didn’t return due to other commitments leaving the Mustang Coach with a very minimal team. With the lack of athletes, Churchill found himself in one of the toughest predicaments they program has come across since 2014 when the program went through a complete reboot of the team.
“There was a variety of reasons they didn’t come back, other sports, jobs or classwork,” Churchill said. “I did have a sense that some new kids were thinking about coming out for the team, but I still needed to get the word out looking for anyone to commit to giving it a try. It wasn’t until after the season started that our numbers got to really viable levels. I am thankful that things all came together giving us a total of nine players (7 are needed to field a team) on this year’s roster.”
While the majority of the Mustang team lacks experience, Churchill did have a couple of players arrive with significant tennis skills; most notably freshman Partha Jammalamadaka. Although only a freshman, Churchill believes that he is already one of the best players to be part of the Norwood program.
“Playing at the number one singles position he has the immense potential to grow even much stronger,” Churchill said. “He is a resilient competitor as demonstrated by his clutch wins and has the tools to become a leading player in the TVL in the future if he works for it. He is already on his way to competing with some of the best players in the TVL. He already has notable wins over Westwood’s number one senior Ray Wong (2-6,6-2, 6-4), and Medfield’s number one senior Drew Pezzullo (5-7, 7-6, 10-8 super-tiebreaker).”
 At the time of this writing, Jammalamadaka was 6-6.
Playing second singles is another freshman Juneau Joe. Although he doesn’t have the experience or power of Jammalamadaka, he is an energetic mover that is not intimidated when going up against some of the stronger hitters. According to Churchill, ideally, he would not be a second singles player this early, but he does have a lot of potential to be a winning tennis player, especially as he gains more experience.
In addition to the top two singles players on the team, Norwood also will have two other freshman gaining valuable experience on the courts this spring. Jack Weafer is playing third singles for the Mustangs while Gary Orobey is playing doubles. With no seniors on this year’s squad, Churchill has a group of tennis players who are learning on the fly. Sophomore Aiden Ciavottone has seen time at third singles and in doubles, while junior Tyler Lovell, sophomore Patrick Ibrahim, and junior Anthony Connolly all have seen action at the double’s positions.
“Not having the experience ourselves and having to go up against experienced opponents, it has been tough to compete in the deeper positions, but we are very focused in practice and looking to improver at doubles and develop those fundamental tennis skills,” Churchill said. 
Being a young team, Churchill has been extremely grateful to have Dipesh Mukerji as a volunteer assistant helping on the courts. Murkerji has brought many insights and significant energy to the team and draws on his experiences as a tennis player.