Spring sports are in full bloom at the regional high school, with the fields, courts and Lagoon Pond abuzz with preseason activity.
The core of last years’ tennis team, which brought home the Eastern Athletic Conference league title for the first time ever, returns to the courts this season (doubles players Michaella Gaines and Cami Fernandez have both graduated, but all the other starters are back). Senior Alyssa Adler and junior Annie Burton, last year’s number three and number one players, were elected captains on Wednesday.
“It’s a really nice group of girls,” head coach Connie McHugh said of the 2012 squad, which is sixteen players strong this season. Now in her second season with the team, coach McHugh said this year’s motto is “ladies-scholars-athletes.”
“We as coaches get these opportunities to pass on life lessons,” she said. “It’s going to be a privilege [to do so].”
The 2011 squad finished with a 15-3 regular season record, and was 7-1 in league play. They advanced to the semifinals of the state section tournament before falling to Norwell.
They play their first home match against Bishop Stang on Thursday, March 29, at 3 p.m.
“We’re fully engaged and on the water,” head coach Andrew Burr said of the 2012 team. “The weather’s been unbelievable; normally it’s snowing [this time of year].”
In addition to the early spring weather, the team also benefits from the addition of six new boats to the fleet — particularly important as the squad, twenty-five sailors in all, is about twice as large as it has been in previous years.
Tricaptains Riley Donegan, Jake Sudarsky, and Jesse Thomas are the lone seniors on the young team, which is “eighty per cent ninth and tenth graders,” according to coach Burr. He has been working with many of the sailors since they were in sixth grade (as part of the fall sailing program), a factor he expects will help close the usual early-season experience gap.
“A lot of the freshmen already have crewing experience,” he said, which helps them as they make the transition skippering.
“I’m just curious to see where they can go,” coach Burr continued. “You just don’t know, but the potential’s there.”
The 2012 boys’ tennis team boasts a curious combination of youth and experience: There are no seniors on the squad, but almost every starter from last year’s 19-3, EAC-winning team is back. The only loss was number-one player Reid Yennie, who graduated.
“The boys’ team is looking pretty good, frankly,” head coach Ned Fennessy said. “It’s now becoming ... a veteran team. Some [players] were freshmen starters, and now they’re juniors.”
With all of the returning talent, however, coach Fennessy was unsure of who would fill Reid’s former slot.
“It’s still up in the air,” he said. “I run a series of round-robin matches [during preseason] ... until I get through those matches, I won’t know who’s going to be number one and number two.”
Junior captains Justice Yennie and Kent Leonard would seem the “heirs apparent to move up,” he continued, “but some of the players in practice have improved dramatically since last season.”
The boys will play 18 regular-season matches this year, including two against perennial rival Cape Cod Academy. They will also play two matches against Dover-Sherborn, a new powerhouse opponent who finished last season 18-3.
Last year’s girls’ squad tied with Bishop Feehan for the EAC title, but this year the Vineyard “intends to win the title outright,” writes head coach Betsy Dripps. Although standout center Molly Fischer (MVRHS ‘11) has moved on to playing for Ithaca College, thirteen players return from the 2011 team, which went 11-7 and advanced to the second round of the state tournament.
The offense will be led by senior cocaptain Madison Hughes, who finished last season with 53 goals and 43 assists, juniors Alayna Hutchinson (42 goals, 50 assists) and Taylor Poggi (21 points, 21 assists), and sophomore Isabel Smith (19 goals, 5 assists). Junior Jennie Lindland, out last season with an ACL injury, returns to the field; senior Ambika Datta and junior Jenny Hart will also play key roles in the offense.
Senior cocaptain Shelby Ferry anchors the defense with returning juniors Texe Craig, Hannah Moore, and Paige Nitardy. Senior April Hargy is back in the goal. With 44 players signed up for the lacrosse program, Coach Dripps expects a talented group of newcomers to make their mark as well.
Two former players, Kurstin Meehan and Jessie Wilcoxson, take on assistant coaching duties this year.
Additional spring sports previews will appear in next week’s Gazette.