The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls varsity tennis team started off the new season by blanking Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC) rival Coyle and Cassidy 5-0 on a sunny, 45 degree Wednesday afternoon at the Ned Fennessy courts in Oak Bluffs.
The Vineyarders are the two-time defending state division 3 champions, winners of 44 consecutive matches, dating back to June 2014.
Many girls have returned from last year, including Junior Kat Roberts (daughter of co-coach Liz Roberts), sophomore Kelly Klaren, junior Lizzie Williamson, sophomore Victoria Scott, and senior Alison Daigle.
Decked out in their brand new dark purple Nike tennis dresses, the girls took barely 30 minutes to complete their matches and all five matches were done by 3:45pm.
Hannah Rabasca was first off the court at third singles, cleanly defeating her opponent 6-0, 6-0. Kat Roberts at first singles was not far behind with another flawless win 6-0, 6-0. Victoria Scott only dropped one game and won second singles 6-0, 6-1. On the doubles front, the Pogue girls were split up. Paige Pogue played with Lizzie Williamson and won 6-1, 6-0. Second doubles was the final victory with Alison Daigle and Molly Pogue winning 6-0, 6-0.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Victoria Scott told The Times post match, who added the weather and wind conditions were better than she had expected.
“It was good, I’m excited for some more competitive matches throughout the year,” Kat Roberts said after her double-bagel win.
“It was definitely really cold out,” freshman Hannah Rabasca said after her first varsity tennis match, which she won handily. “Even though the team isn’t the best, it was still fun playing and I get to learn a lot and I get to practice things I don’t get to play when I play people who are better than me, but overall, it was just a good match.”
The Vineyarders, 21-0 last season, are loaded with talent in 2017.
“Overall this will be the strongest team ever in terms of depth and talent,” head tennis pro at Vineyard Youth Tennis (VYT) Mike Hallisky said of the girls he coaches all winter. “We’re looking forward to a great season.”
Once the high school tennis season starts, though, Mr. Hallisky hands over the training to co-head coaches Nina Bramhall and Liz Roberts.
The team has seven new freshmen, including standouts Molly and Paige Pogue, who are triplets with Spencer Pogue, and Hannah Rabasca. Spencer is playing this year on the boys varsity tennis team. All three freshmen played in the varsity home opener.
Victoria Scott and Lizzie Williamson will likely resume their unbeatable post at first doubles. The duo went undefeated last year and went on to win the MIAA doubles state championship as an individual team. Due to Kelly Klaren’s wrist sprain, Wednesday’s line-up was shifted and Lizzie and Victoria did not play together in the first match.
The players have not completed their challenge matches yet. “We’re sort of halfway through,” Ms. Bramhall told The Times before the matches. Each player plays another teammate twice, and if there is a tie, they play a third.
Mr. Hallisky said the starters on the team have been in the VYT program “consistently since they were 5 or 6 years old, and it shows in their tennis.” Over the winter, most of the girls have practiced at VYT 3-to-4 days a week.
Mr. Hallisky pointed out that in the past the second doubles post was kind of a “mix and match” but this year with the Pogue girls, the entire team is strong with no kinks in the chain.
“I know Nina and Liz are really looking forward to it because (the team is) so solid,” Mr. Hallisky said.
“Excited,” coach Liz Roberts said when asked how she felt about the upcoming season. “Excited with some freshmen energy. We have a big team. The year went by quickly and we’re excited for another one.”
This season, the Vineyarders will play Foxboro and Sharon, a pair of quality non-league opponents, for the first time.
“Our league is, number one, small, and number two, not that strong, and we only have eight matches, half of those are always non-league matches,” Ms. Bramhall said. “In the non-league matches you can really ask anybody if they’d be interested in playing you.”
“We have a big freshmen class and they’re all pals from (VYT) and from going to school together,” Ms. Bramhall said. “I think part of what’s so nice is that the girls all sort of know each other and they all seem really comfortable together and it seems like a nice, big club. That’s a good feeling for a team.”
The Vineyarders play Barnstable away next Tuesday, April 11, and play Sandwich at home Thursday, April 13.