By BOB YORK
Big Green girls tennis coach Dave Dickinson probably watched his sport weave its way through more changes this past season than it had undergone in the last decade. Fortunately for the veteran Deerfield Academy mentor, however, when it comes to this program, some things never change – like the bottom line.
This year’s bottom line read like so many of its predecessors. It read heavy on the left and light on the right. It read 7 wins and 3 losses.
“We only lost three games this season,” said Dickinson, who has never had a losing season with the Big Green and who registered his 200th career victory at Deerfield this spring, “and thankfully that maintains both our record … and our goal … of sustaining three or fewer losses in a season.
“In fact,” added a very proud mentor who saw his career record at Deerfield balloon to 205-47, “the last time the girls varsity lost more than three matches in the same season was back in 1995.
The season of change was not quite so kind, at least as far as Dickinson was concerned.
“First of all, the Founder’s League voted out our old format of playing 10 kids for a new format where a team can play repeat singles and doubles … like the boys do … and thus play as few as six kids,” explained Dickinson. “It’s too bad, because it will create smaller teams, and allow fewer kids to experience varsity competition.
“We also now have a new New England tournament,” added Dickinson. “It’s a New England Prep School Athletic Council sanctioned team tournament, where it no longer will be considered as an invitational. A board will now decide who is invited according to the strength of your competitive schedule as well as your won-loss record.”
Dickinson said that according to one of the tournament officials, there were more than 40 schools – including day schools and even some semi-private/public schools – applying for tournament berths.
Despite the tournament’s increased interest, Dickinson’s crew still earned an invite and earned it as the sixth seed in its A Division, “its toughest division,” according to Dickinson, where the girls were bumped, 5-3, by a third-seeded Milton Academy squad, which finished its season showing an 11-1 mark.
“Despite the loss, the kids didn’t get any complaints from me,” said Dickinson. “They all upped their games … they all played hard and they all played well. And from a coach’s perspective, you can’t ask any more of your players than that.”
The New England tournament’s format didn’t end up having as much effect on the Big Green as its timing did, however.
“Sadly, after 22 years of participating in the de Villa Franca Invitational Tournament at Kent School … where we always do quite well … we had to bow out this year since the date of that tournament was moved to accommodate the NEPSAC tourney,” explained Dickinson. “The new date of the Kent School tournament turned out to be on the same weekend as our Parents’ Weekend. So, it was a no go this year.”
This year’s edition if Big Green girls tennis had what appeared to be a perfect blend of experience and youth, as this year’s co-captains, Annika Trapness (13) and Cleo Siderides (13), were positioned as the first and second seeds in singles play, then, this duo, which split this year’s Deerfield Girls’ Tennis Coaches’ Award, combined to form a winning tandem as the number-one doubles team.
Deerfield’s number-three singles slot was filled by Margaret McGraw (15), while Zoe L’Esperance (13) was situated at number four. Serena Ainslie (16) was number five, as Ashley So (13), the winner of this year’s Sara C. Schewe Award, was stationed at the sixth slot and Alyssa Moreau (14), who was voted as next year’s captain, was seventh in the singles lineup.
The remainder of the Big Green doubles teams saw McGraw and Ainslie combine their efforts on the second unit, while So and Moreau posted an undefeated season while working together on the third doubles team.