Spring Preview: Kennett girls tennis is happy to be back on the courts | High School | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
CONWAY — There are lots of smiling faces behind masks on the Kennett High girls’ tennis team this season. The Eagles, who missed out on the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are happy to be back on the courts and actually playing matches this spring.
“I think we’re all glad to be playing,” said Duncan Yarworth, who is in his fourth year at the helm of the program.
This year’s team includes seniors Lia Anzaldi, Brianna Boynton, Dylan Derby, Shannon Derby, Kameryn Dockham, Ava Jarell, Nicole Lockhart, Amee Petell and Grace Ward; junior Sydney Deblois-Hill and Eve Paglierani; sophomore Jocelyn Anzaldi and freshmen Gracie Baillargeon and Olivia Scott.
“We have smaller numbers out this year, but I think 14 is a good number, a lot more manageable,” said Yarworth, who had 20 girls out for the team in 2018 and a whopping 30 in 2019.
The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association canceled all spring sports in 2020 due to the coronavirus. Kennett’s sports teams met virtually through that spring working on skills and drills. The Eagles even held spring sports awards with Yarworth selecting Alexis Gunn to receive the Girls Tennis Award.
The spring season got off to a two-week delay after the hometown flock was shut down for a week and forced to go to remote learning due to 15 detected cases of the coronavirus on campus. This resulted in matches with Inter-Lakes (planned for April 12 and 15) being canceled. Once able to return to the courts, the Eagles learned their next two matches with Gilford (slated for April 19 and 22) were canceled due to COVID at the Golden Eagles’ campus.
KHS made its season debut, playing its first match in more than 670 days, when it made the trek to Plymouth on Tuesday, playing shorthanded due to missing eight girls because of April vacation on a cold, windy afternoon. The Bobcats topped the Eagles 6-3.
“We had a handful of kids who hadn’t played a (varsity) match before,” said Yarworth. “We had to shift a few people around. We lost, but overall, it was a good showing.”
Jarell played No. 1 singles followed by Baillargeon at No. 2; Jocelyn Anzaldi at No. 3; Ward at No. 4; Paglierani at No. 5; and Scott at No. 6. Baillargeon and Anzaldi won their matches.
In doubles, Jarell/Baillargeon won at No. 1, while Anzaldi/Ward along with Paglierani/Scott fell in close matches.
“We got our first one in, which was nice,” Yarworth said. “Hopefully, next week, we’ll be back to full strength.”
When at full strength, Yarworth envisions a lineup of Dockham at No. 1 singles; Jarell at No. 2; Lia Anzaldi at No. 3; Shannon Derby at No. 4; Baillargeon at No. 5; and Jocelyn Anzaldi at No. 6.
While not totally set on bis doubles tandems, Yarworth said he’ll probably start out with pairings of Dockham/Jarell, Lia Anzaldi/Shannon Derby and Baillargeon/Jocelyn Anzaldi.
The Eagles hosted Plymouth in a rematch on Thursday. Results were not known as of press time.
Yarworth announced Dockham and Jarell as the team captains on Tuesday.
Yarworth spoke about goals for this season.
“We haven’t set anything specifically,” he said. “We want to make the most of our practice time and see where we can go in our matches. I think we’d like to get better than two years ago (when the team won thee matches).”
The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association had an open tournament last fall and winter for multiple sports with everyone making the playoffs and initially playing in a regionalized cluster in the opening rounds of post-season play.
Kennett is scheduled to host rival Kingswood on Monday (4 p.m.) in the first of a home-and-home series, which is slated to culminate in Wolfeboro on Thursday at 4 p.m.