Girls' tennis starts strong under new leadership

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The Newtonite

by Jonny Levenfeld

A coaching staff overhaul typically leads to challenges for any team. For girls’ tennis, 3-2, a coaching change has has worked out favorably so far this season.

For the second year in a row, the Tigers entered the season with new coaches. Emily Manion took over as head coach while history teacher Albert Cho joined as the assistant.

Senior Monica Kieff, a captain with junior Sammy Marcus, called the coaching transition “very smooth and easy,” and added that Manion and Cho are “great coaches.”

“Coach Manion and Coach Cho are very organized and they always come to practice prepared,” she said.

Manion credited her older players for the easy transition. “The upperclassmen haven’t missed a beat,” she said. “They communicate appropriately, act responsibly, and are very respectful.”

In addition to having new coaches, Kieff cited “team dynamic” as the most significant difference from last year. “This year, we are a lot closer and more supportive as a team.”

The team’s camaraderie was on display on Marathon Monday, as several of the players showed up to cheer on Manion, who participated in the race. “It was really special to have them there supporting me, and it’s a memory I will never forget,” Manion said.

After winning three straight matches to start the year, the team fell to Brookline April 17 and was then swept by Framingham on the road yesterday. Despite two consecutive losses, the Tigers have already topped their win total from last year’s 2-8 season.

Manion has only been at the helm for a few weeks, but she likes what she sees from her team thus far. “I am very impressed with [the players’] commitment to the team, their willingness to learn and train hard, as well as their work ethic on and off the court. This is a great group of student-athletes who not only meet, but exceed my expectations each day.”

Looking forward, Kieff has her eyes on opponents that the Tigers fell to last year, including Bay State Conference Carey division rival Wellesley. She’s also hoping that the team qualifies for the State Tournament and wins at least one match in the postseason.

Above all else, Manion is striving for “a positive and enjoyable team experience” this year, though she would also like to qualify for States and finish near the top in the BSC standings.

Manion will be looking for Kieff, Marcus, and the rest of the players in the starting lineup to continue their strong play in the long run. “[The starters] each have a different role, embrace it, and accept the challenge,” she said.

The Tigers are set to take on Natick at home today at 3:45 p.m.