Academy of Notre Dame tennis team nets positive results

As the 2014 tennis season was coming to a close, Academy of Notre Dame tennis coach Steven Hall began anticipating about the potential of the success the team was poised to have in 2015.

With many key players returning, Hall was anxious to see if his team could once again come together and improve on last season’s finish.

“I anxiously awaited the start of the season and those first couple days of tryouts to see who has been working hard and how much the girls have improved from the previous year,” said Hall in a recent interview. “I was impressed with how much their overall games matured.  Their skill level improved but more importantly their tennis IQ improved dramatically.  The choice on what shots to hit and when to hit them based on the situation was very noticeable from the start of the season.”

Hoping that their hard work would pay off in the form of victories, the girls have followed the cue from seniors Anne Marie Crinnion, Audrey Hart, Rachel Weber and Darby Smith bonding as one unit to put together a special year to date.

“The seniors are an extremely important part of the team’s success,” said junior Grace Leasure, who plays No. 2 singles. “The four seniors on varsity go above and beyond to boost morale and encourage team bonding. They have taught me and everyone on the team about the importance of being and acting like a team. Everything we do they try to encourage the team aspect of it, even though tennis is a solo sport. The seniors this year helped us become a better team through encouragement and positivity.”

Crinnion, who plays No.1 singles said, “As senior captain, I try to make sure everybody feels included and like she is an integral part of the team, because everyone is. It’s such a unique sport in that we play our individual matches but are still part of a team; thus it’s even more important to build team relationships off the court. We have wing nights after practice, give each other “buddy bags” before matches with candies, snacks, and a note, and have bagel breakfasts before big matches. Most importantly, I had the idea to take the team to Escape the Room Philly. We were locked in an office themed room and had an hour to solve the clues in the room to unlock the door. We finished with 30 seconds to spare, making the experience extremely exciting.”

With some early season wins to help gain confidence as the Inter-Ac season approached, the Irish opened up league play with a hard fought 4-3 win over Baldwin before falling 5-2 to EA. Seeing how his team would respond to adversity, Hall couldn’t have been happier when they posted a 4-3 win over Agnes Irwin, the programs first over the Owls in at least a decade.

“To finally beat Agnes Irwin which has historically dominated the Academy of Notre Dame in league play was a truly memorable win for us as a team,” said Hall  “The girls stay composed throughout and fought hard through some crucial points and games in the matches.  The pivotal match was played at 2nd doubles where sophomore’s Adrianna Bull and Natalie Hughes dug out of a 3-0 hole in the second set to win 7-6 and clinch the important 4th point for the team!  That match had so many twists and turns and was another example of how resilient our team is this year.  I am so proud of the girls and their effort to this point.  We have 3 league matches left and we are feeling good at what we can accomplish down the home stretch.”

Leasure added, “It was amazing to beat Agnes Irwin this year. They’re one of the best teams in the league and to be able to see the difference in our team from my freshmen year to my junior year was incredible. Reaching this win with my team is something I will never forget about my high school experience.”

With Hall striving to see the team come together as one his seniors have definitely set the tone for the younger kids and although his captain did not win her match at No.1 singles against Agnes Irwin what she said following the match epitomizes this year’s squad.

“Even though I didn’t win my match it meant a lot to beat AIS, especially because it’s my senior year,” said Anne Marie Crinnion. “I take such pride in watching my hard working teammates pull out a win I’ve been wanting for four years.”

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