RHAM tennis seniors (l-r) Lauren Fenton, Addison Brown, Morgan Fazzino, Teresa Hooker. Photo credit: Dan Fish
Clutch would be a good word to describe the girls’ tennis team at RHAM High School.
Needing a win to assure a spot in the state tournament, the Raptors defeat Enfield (4-3) in the regular season and then upset higher-rank Berlin (4-3) in the qualifying round of the Class L tourney.
Leading the way were four senior captains—Lauren Fenton, Teresa Hooker, Addison Brown, Morgan Fazzino—that have played pivotal roles on the court and led the way off of it.
“Their experience, enthusiasm and love of the game has been infectious for the entire team,” head coach Carol Fish said of her seniors. “We’re a young team. We have a lot of freshmen and they have really learned a lot from the work ethic of the seniors.”
Fenton served as the team’s No. 1 singles player and Hooker served as the No. 2 singles, while Brown was half of the team’s No. 1 doubles team and Fazzino was half of the No. 2 doubles team.
Against Enfield on May 25, the doubles teams were instrumental in the victory.
Brown and Grace Baran (6-1, 6-0), Fazzino and Anna Lavenburg (6-1, 6-1), and the No. 3 doubles team of Kate Landry and Kiley Stanford (6-3, 6-1) all won.
Those three victories, along with a win from No. 4 singles player Sophia Orama secured a team win for the Raptors, who finished the regular season 6-9.
The combo of Brown and Baran were a consistent force for Fish this season, posting an 11-3 record as a tandem.
Fish said that Baran, a junior, is a player who made a significant leap this spring.
“She has been phenomenal,” Fish said of Baran. “Not only has she had a great season [in doubles], but she has stepped in to play singles and will do whatever is necessary for the team.”
Fazzino also reached 10 wins as a double player.
Fish also pointed to Fenton, who is a multi-sport athlete at RHAM, praising her willingness to go toe-to-toe with the other team’s No. 1 singles player, who are often year round tennis players.
In the tourney win over Berlin on May 27, it was the next generation that carried the team.
Despite playing shorthanded, the No. 19 Raptors prevailed over the No. 14 Redcoats at Berlin High School.
Junior Bridget Austin won the No. 3 singles match (6-1, 6-2) and RHAM again swept the three doubles matches.
Baran and junior Anna Lavenburg rallied to win (1-6, 7-5, 1-0), sophomore Kiley Stanford and freshman Alison Polochanin prevailed (6-2, 6-3), and the freshman duo of Kate Landry and Ella Mayo won a tiebreaker (6-3, 5-7, 1-0).
The win over Berlin was the crowning achievement for the Raptors, who starting the season with four consecutive losses.
Following the slow start, the team rebounded with three straight victories—defeating Simsbury, New Britain and E.O. Smith.
The win over New Britain on April 24 was the team’s first and only clean sweep, winning all seven matches.
Fenton, Hooker, Austin, and Brynn Maleryn each won singles matches, while the duos of Brown / Baran, Fazzino / Lavenburg, and Landry / Stanford won doubles matches.
On Tuesday, the resilient Raptors fell to No. 3 Newington in the first round of the state tournament, ending the careers of the four seniors and the season for the other 16 players.
Fish, who wrapped up her second season with the girls after coaching the previous five with the boys program, is hoping that some of the returning girls become year round tennis players.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Fish said of the season. “Some of the younger girls have never played at all, so I’ve loved to see them improve and how everything started to click. Their understanding of the game and their skill sets improved tremendously. I’m really looking forward to next year and to see what happens with our younger players.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin