(March 29, 2013) The Worcester Prep girls’ tennis team went 12-2 in 2012 and won its seventh consecutive Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference title. While the Lady Mallards this year are a much younger, less experienced squad — just six of the 16 players on Coach Cyndee Hudson’s roster are veterans — that hasn’t stopped them from eying an eighth title.
The group consists of three juniors, seven sophomores and five freshmen.
“They’ve really been working on improving their skills,” said Hudson, who has led the program for 13 seasons. “They’re enthusiastic and willing to try new things.”
Captain Parker Kellam, a four-year player, is the team’s lone senior. She will play doubles with junior captain Lydia Pritchard, a three-year member of the team. They have good chemistry and, according to Kellam, “we’re really goofy, but it works for the both of us.”
The girls said they are up to the challenge of assisting the new players.
“I don’t play tennis because I’m the best person out here, by any means, but [because] I enjoy it and I enjoy teaching others how to play,” Kellam said.
Added Pritchard, “The team is young and we have a lot of new faces, but I think everyone’s going to be really good … I feel pretty confident about this year.”
The only singles player returning from last year is sophomore Tatjana Kondraschow. She will play in the No. 1 spot. Veterans who will also compete at singles are juniors Hannah Esham and Claire Stickler and sophomore Mattie Maull. Freshman Sonja Walker will play in the No. 5 position.
Sophomore Fiona Reid will compete in doubles action as will newcomers Natalie Twilley, a sophomore, and freshman Julia D’Antonio.
“With such a new team everything will be a learning experience and we hope to just get better every day,” Hudson said. “We’re looking for another winning season and to be a strong contender for the ESIAC title. It’s going to take everyone to accomplish that.”
The boys’ team finished 8-7 in 2012 under the direction of first-year Coach Dr. Keith Coleman.
He worked with the boys to develop their fundamentals, correct court positioning and tactics last year so he feels the Mallards are ahead of the game this season as nine of the 11 players on his roster are veterans.
Worcester’s top three singles players — senior Tom Thornett, sophomore Quinn Lukas and junior Chase Schmehling — are back to compete.
“I expect a lot from those guys,” Coleman said.
Added Thornett, “I feel like we have a good amount of young guys and a couple key freshmen prospects that have some talent.”
“Being one of more skilled players, I can help them with technique and also hopefully be their captain and lead them and give them tips on what they can do better,” he continued.
Sophomores Kyle Chandler and Erik Zorn will play fourth and fifth singles.
Senior London Walker and sophomore Chris Choy will team up for first doubles competition. Juniors Lucas Baier and Kyle Zarif and freshmen Jason Cook and Alex Choy will also play doubles.
“We’re going to try our hardest, give it our all every game and see what happens,” Lukas said.
The team’s motto this year is “Striving for Excellence,” but having fun is also important.
“If we put out our best every day, we can always walk off the court with our heads high, whether we win or lose,” Coleman said. “If we play up to the level we’re capable of we’ll be successful. I feel extremely positive about the season.”