(March 27, 2015) Worcester Prep’s girls’ tennis team went undefeated 12-0 in 2014 and the Lady Mallards captured their ninth consecutive Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference title.
Coach Cyndee Hudson, who has led the program for 15 seasons, has 18 players on her roster this year. Twelve of those players, including seven seniors, competed in 2014.
Several Mallards have stepped into new positions, either moving up in singles or doubles seeding.
“We’re very experienced,” Hudson said. “The girls are eager to step into their new positions.”
Worcester won its first match of the season 7-0 over the Pocomoke Warriors on Wednesday. Seniors Tatjana Kondraschow and Mattie Maull, the team’s captains, and junior Isabel Carulli shut out their first, second and third singles opponents 8-0.
Senior Fiona Reid and junior Sarah Koon earned 8-1 wins at fourth and fifth singles, respectively.
Worcester’s doubles teams of senior Natalie Twilley and junior Erika Smith and sophomores Eva Parks and Stormy McGuinness outscored their opponents 8-0.
With a number of newcomers on the team, Hudson will look to Kondraschow and Maull to lead the group. Maull is more of a vocal leader, while Kondraschow leads by example, she said.
“I think I’ll be able to lead just by experience. I’m pretty encouraging with the girls and if they need any help with skills I’m there to kind of help them along,” Maull said.
She has been a member of the team since her freshman year. Maull is eager to playing second singles this season. She was fourth in the singles line-up in 2014.
“It will be good to have harder competition and I’m excited for it. I think we’re looking pretty good,” Maull said. “We have a lot of new people this year. [With] 18 players it’s the biggest team we’ve had in my four years. I’m excited to see how we perform this year.”
Kondraschow is also looking forward to the season. This is her fourth year competing for Worcester. It is her third playing in the top singles spot.
“I feel like with the years of experience I have, I can add a lot to the team, give them pointers, cheer them on through their games. It’s just a nice group of [seniors that have] been together four years,” she said. “I think we’re going to do really well this year. I think it’s going to be one of the strongest teams I’ve played on through these four years.”
Worcester has some tough competition this season and Hudson hopes her players will rise to the challenge and do their best every match.
Hudson said the Mallards are also gunning for their 10th conference title.
“We want to do well in the tournament on May 1. We’ve already got that in our sites,” she said.
The boys’ team also started its season with a 7-0 win over Pocomoke. Seniors Quinn Lukas, Kyle Chandler and Erik Zorn won their first, second and third singles matches 8-1. Alex Choy, a junior, scored an 8-2 victory at fourth singles. Sophomore Nik Moondra took his fifth singles match 8-3.
Senior Chris Choy and sophomore Zach Wilson topped their first doubles competition 8-1.
Charlie Pritchard, a junior, and freshman Brenner Maull outscored their second doubles opponents 8-1.
Worcester finished the 2014 season 10-2. Of the 13 players on first-year Coach Terry Underkoffler’s roster this year, 10 are veterans.
Zorn and Chandler teamed up during the 2014 ESIAC tournament to capture the double title. Both players have been members of the team since their freshman year.
“Having seniors at the top positions I think will help us [lead the team], as well as with our experience,” Zorn said.
“We have a lot of new players this year so we’re going to have to try and show them the ropes,” Chandler added. “We have a lot of kids also that have been on the team for a while and everyone’s pretty good, so I think we’ll do well this year. Since it’s my senior year, I want go out with a bang. Winning the ESIAC would be cool.”
Underkoffler said the team has depth and the players are versatile. Many can play both singles and doubles.
“We have some pretty skilled players. We have solid top-five singles players and pretty good doubles teams,” Underkoffler said.
Underkoffler has been coaching soccer for 36 years. He has led Worcester’s boys’ soccer team for three seasons. Underkoffler played tennis for a number of years, but this is his first time coaching.
“The opportunity came up and I wanted to give it a go,” he said. “It’s really cool for me. It’s a whole new sport to coach.”
Underkoffler said he could use coaching techniques from soccer and apply them to tennis. With a smaller squad, he can also provide players with more individual attention to help them improve their game.
“I want to add variety into their game,” he said. “I want them to be diversified and have power as well as a finesse game. I want them to be more complete players.”
BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ TENNIS:
March 27: Stephen Decatur, 4 p.m. (boys’ (H), girls’ (A))
March 31: Sts. Peter & Paul, 4 p.m. (A)
April 2: Gunston, 4 p.m. (H)
April 7: Parkside, 4 p.m. (H)
April 9: Bennett, 4 p.m. (H)
April 10: Salisbury School, 4 p.m. (H)
April 14: Pocomoke, 4 p.m. (H)
April 17: Decatur, 4 p.m. (girls’ (H) boys’ (A))
April 20: Salisbury School, 6 p.m. (A)
April 22: Sts. Peter & Paul, 4 p.m. (H)
April 24: Gunston, 4 p.m. (A)
April 29: Bennett, 4 p.m. (A)
April 30: Snow Hill, 4 p.m (H)
May 1: ESIAC championship, noon (TBA)