By Local Town Pages - Tennis is a sport played worldwide by over a million people recreational. It is also a popular spectator sport on numerous levels. Although the Holliston high school has both a girls and boys team, the Panthers have not reached a high status with the sport in many years. Coach Kelly Day is looking to change all that in Holliston.”
“We are definitely in a building process so to speak,” the Holliston coach said. “There is no recent strong history of tennis in town, but I’m looking to change all that.”
Day has been the boys coach for the past four seasons at Holliston and recently acquired the girl’s team this spring. Although the boys are struggling this year Day has seen progress over the last few years
“The seniors (boys) on this year’s team have grown tremendously in terms of their tennis skills,” the Coach said. “Not only have they learned and improved, they are showing the younger kids what hard work gets you and they in turn are noticing and working hard themselves.”
The Panthers may find themselves in the middle of the lower half of the Tri Valley League standings thus far, but senior Captain Shane O’Neill is doing his best to battle the giants of the league at the number one singles spot. Behind O’Neill in second singles is freshman Adythia Ashokkumar. Despite being a first year player on the high school level the freshman is a year round tennis player that brings a very competitive energy to the team.
Rounding out singles play is senior captain Brian Chi and junior Henry Powell. Chi is a four year player who has brought the Panthers many a wins during his tenure on the courts, while Powell has the experience, but didn’t play all that much last spring – he will next year.
“Henry has worked his way up the ladder, but he’s going to be counted on in a big way next year so he’s going to have to step up his game,” Day said.
Holliston has a rotating group of six athletes competing to play in doubles matches each contest. Leading the way, playing first doubles for the majority of the matches, are sophomore Will Flanagan and Nikko Alwani. The next consistent tandem is usually made up of Matt Whitting and Thomas Sykes; senior captain Chad Peipelberg and Dylan Potenri are the final two athletes looking for time on the court.
Having four freshman on the seven man roster says good things for the Panther’s future.
“Four freshman starters says a lot about the future for boy’s tennis in Holliston,” Day said. “These freshman are eager to play and the outgoing seniors, who have played since their freshman year, are helping them to build the experience they’ll need to be successful.”
Much like the boys team, the girls have a solid core of young athletes to start for Holliston. Sophomore Abai O’Neill has earned the right to play in the number one singles position, while senior captain Haley Hanstad is behind her at second singles and freshman Mary Hanstad and Addie Raymer, who has seen some time at first doubles, have been splitting time in the third spot.
When Raymer is playing singles, she’s paired with senior captain Harriet Koblener at first doubles. Freshman Alyssa Brucato and Madison Rankin hold down the second doubles team for the Panthers.
“When I took over the girls’ team, I told them that this would be a rebuilding year because of the young age of our players,” Day said. “Our goal this year is to get them varsity playing experience in match play and take that into next year. They’re learning about their play growth as well as how to win.”
Although a lot of the Holliston racketeers are not year round players of tennis, many having been buying into Coach Day’s philosophy and are seriously considering playing the sport more often.
“The girls are noticing from top to bottom that the players in this league put in the time during the offseason to become better tennis players,” the Coach said. “Seeing that the extra works makes a difference, they are eager to do just that.”
With a majority of young players on both the boys and girls teams Day seems to have found a gold mine and is she can clean up the rough edges and give them a little polish Holliston tennis may become a powerhouse in the league.