Hampton girls tennis players have no trouble finding silver linings in season

Saturday, October 17, 2020 | 11:01 AM

The Hampton girls tennis team is proof a season that looks dreadful on paper can look pretty good in person.

Despite enduring an 0-10 match record, the youthful Talbots remained upbeat about the experience and encouraged for the future.

“Even though we didn’t have a great record, it was a really successful year,” sophomore Abi Green said. “We all grew so much and we all grew together, supporting each other, and I think that was special.”

The Talbots were fighting from behind after two of their top players decided to skip the season amid covid-19 concerns. There was only one senior among coach Grant McKinney’s top seven players entering the year, with three freshmen and two sophomores.

Competing in tough Section 2-AAA, eight of their 10 losses were by scores of 5-0. Their closest matches were a 3-2 loss to North Hills on Sept. 10 and a 4-1 loss to Penn-Trafford on Sept. 15.

“The matches were always super-fun,” said freshman Emma Spiess, who switched between No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles. “Even though we didn’t win any games, they were always really competitive, and the girls on the team were so much fun to be with.

“We learned how to play together as a team this year, so we will definitely do better in matches next year.”

Green, who played mainly No. 2 singles, enjoyed the highlight of the season when she rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against North Hills.

Senior Lindsey Schwarzbach, the team’s No. 1 singles player, also won her match against North Hills, and seniors Danielle Perrone and Caitlyn McCarthy earned a win at No. 2 doubles against Penn-Trafford, 7-6 (11-9), 6-2.

At section singles Sept. 16, Green fell to North Hills senior Emma Humphrey, 10-4, and Schwarzbach lost to Pine-Richland senior Elizabeth Stokes, 10-1, in their opening matches.

At section doubles, the tandems of Schwarzbach-Green and Perrone-McCarthy each lost in the first round.

Among the other players who contributed were junior Isabella Kasper, doubles players Mallory Malloy, a sophomore, and Elena Herchenroether and Melanie Malloy, both freshmen.

Spiess, who started playing tennis two summers ago, said she saw season-long gains in her game.

“I think I got better at playing points out and keeping a point together,” she said, “and also my shots got stronger.”

Green, who began focusing on tennis two years ago, said her serve was the main upgrade.

“I was not double-faulting most of the time, and that was a really big improvement,” she said, “and my ground strokes got a lot better.”

Whether it was cheering their teammates or their traditional stop for dinner on the way home from road matches, the Talbots developed a tight-knit bond. Prior to the season, 13 of the 19 girls in the program were newcomers, including 11 freshmen.

Green and Spiess are hopeful the Talbots will be closer to full strength next year if some players return from their season away.

“I would bet that they will come back, and I really hope that they do,” Green said. “They are very nice, and they are good players, so I would love for them to come back.”


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