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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Norwood Tennis Moving Forward

By Christopher Tremblay
Last spring, the Norwood girls tennis team secured four wins, but that team graduated five of its seven starters and it looks as though incoming coach Lisa Tucker has her work cut out for her this season. The first-year varsity head coach is anticipating that the Mustangs can at least match their win total from a year ago.
“I know that we are going to be a very young and inexperienced team this year, but I am hoping to get at least four wins again,” Tucker said. “Getting five would be amazing, but we have a lot of new girls so I have to be realistic.”
While seeing the team capture more wins than they did a year earlier would be a step in the right direction for the tennis program at Norwood, Tucker knows that the real goal is growth and improvement; especially after losing the majority of seniors from the previous team.
“This team is made up of a lot of girls who have never played the game or have very little experience,” Tucker said. “I am looking for them to learn the game, while supporting one another; I want them to all become united as a team.”
The three seniors, Meghan Hobbs, Allegra Michalec and Grace Chau, will take the reins as captains and will be looked upon to develop the overall culture of the team and move them in the right direction.
Michalec and Chau will play together as the Mustangs first double team. Tucker believes that the duo played together last season and thus far this year they seem to be playing well as a team using the entre court front to back. The new coach also noted that the two communicate well with each other on the court.
While Michalec and Chau will be on the court battling it out with the rest of the Tri-Valley League, Hobbs main goal is to encourage the team and get them ready to play from the sidelines. 
“Meghan may not be on the court this year, but she really enjoys helping the rest of the girls with their game,” Tucker said. “She understands what is happening on the courts and is all for helping the youngers girls improve. This is what she really wants to do, and with her attitude she is helping the team.”
Following the senior doubles tandem is a trio of girls battling it out to be part of Norwood’s second doubles team. Sophomores Sylvia Caparrotta and Kim Laia, along with junior Laasya Cholleti, are currently evenly matched on the court and hoping to earn a spot on the Mustangs final team. Although each brings a different aspect of the game to the table, all three are working hard to be one of those competing on a regular basis. 
According to the coach, she is still trying to figure out who best fits with who, but in the meantime, she will rely on challenges matches as well as who Norwood is playing on a specific date as to who gets to take to the court. Caparrotta currently has a slight advantage over the two girls having played a few matches last spring for Norwood, leaving her with more experience; but all three are fighting it out to get on the court.
Coming out on top to play as the Mustangs first singles player is junior Zoe Faller, who last season was penciled in at third singles. According to Tucker, the junior worked extremely hard in the off-season to make the jump up two spots to take over as the team’s top dog knowing that the spot was going to be vacant.
“It’s hard to move up from third to first singles, but she has been very competitive and rose to the occasion,” the coach said. “She moves really well on her feet and moves her opponent around on the court.”
Another singles player, sophomore Riley Barnett, was also looking to make the jump up the ranks and snag the top spot, and although she too worked hard, it just wasn’t meant to be this year.
“Riley worked just as hard in the off-season hoping to secure that spot,” Tucker said. “The two of them were very close, one challenge match away, and although she will remain at second singles again this year, she has a great attitude. Riley has a great baseline game with no fear whatsoever going to the net. She challenges her opponents and has no problem adjusting to their game during her match.”
Rounding out the singles circuit for the Mustangs will be Diya Bhandari. The sophomore didn’t see any action last season in the top seven, but came into this year’s tryouts committed on improving her game and is excited about getting a chance to prove her worth this year. Tucker noted that Bhandari, only a second-year player, takes criticism well and applies what she was told into her game on the courts. 
As this young Norwood team continues to work hard at improving their skills on the court, Tucker knows that there is more than practice to do so.
“They are all working hard in practice, but you need to actually see game time situations and be part of them,” the first year coach said. “By watching others and playing yourself, you get to see what is happening and you learn from that. You can only teach so much in practice; learning during match play will help lead us into the future and help us take the next step.”