Linda Partridge and her longtime assistant with the Hingham girls’ tennis program, Lisa Linton, did not need many preseason practices to realize this year’s squad would be among the most talented, and deepest the Harborwomen have fielded in recent years.
It was a good problem to have.
Although Mathilde Megad and Katelyn Erickson, both juniors and returning Patriot League All-Stars, have anchored the team’s top two singles positions, respectively, depth throughout the lineup has been the biggest driving force behind a 12-0 start.
“We’re in a position this year with strong players right through the lineup from one to 15,” said Partridge, in her 13th season. “We are able to rotate all members of our team into matches.”
While most teams typically utilize their best players at one of the three singles positions, Hingham’s talent isn’t limited to singles.
In fact, Hingham’s second doubles pairing is comprised of two very skilled players, freshman Sanya Khadivi and sophomore Renee Martel.
“When [Khadivi] got here, we had such a deep lineup for singles that we were like, ‘We can’t just have her sitting on the bench,’” Linton said. “There’s no way she can sit on the bench; Renee as well, who is also a singles player. These two girls are too good, we needed to pull them over to doubles this year.”
Juniors Maggie O’Keefe and Susie Anderson have partnered at first doubles, though Partridge emphasized there’s not much drop-off between the two pairings.
“These two teams are so close in ability and have challenged each other several times this season,” Partridge said.
While Khadivi and Martel have had to get used to sharing the court — a learning curve Khadivi acknowledged was “a little hard at first” — O’Keefe and Anderson share a connection that extends beyond the court and into the classroom.
They will represent Hingham and Massachusetts at the upcoming National History Day nationals after winning a state title in the group performance category for their project on the 1961 Freedom Rides.
“Susie and I basically do everything together, so I think that’s definitely helped,” O’Keefe said. “We have a lot of good chemistry and I like playing with her, but it’s different playing with her on the court because, even though we have similar personalities and off the court we have a lot of fun, it’s very serious and tense during matches.”
When the team fell into a 2-1 deficit against Scituate on April 14 after two singles losses, both doubles pairings rallied to win their matches in tiebreakers and propel Hingham to a 3-2 victory.
“You would’ve thought we won the state championship that day,” Linton said. “It was so exciting.”
Hingham began May with back-to-back signature victories, as it handed Duxbury its first loss in a 4-1 decision May 3 and then eked out a 3-2 win over Wellesley just two days later.
It’s wins such as those that have the Harborwomen believing in what they can accomplish in the Division 1 state tournament, even if the players on this year’s team don’t have any state tournament experience after the program opted to sit out last year’s postseason on the heels of COVID canceling 2020 entirely.
“We lost to Duxbury both times last year, so to win against them this year was very exciting,” said senior Teel Bowyer, one of Hingham’s four captains and another returning league All-Star. “I felt like it brought us all closer because it was so exciting. I feel like this team has always been very close because it’s such a small group, but this year the excitement of winning has helped a lot.”
Khadivi said the Wellesley win was “a big surprise.”
“That just shows how much we can do,” the freshman said.
Although Partridge and Linton said they don’t discuss being undefeated, the players are hopeful they’ll be able to accomplish the feat en route to a state title.
“I think it helps that we’re undefeated because we want to fight for that title,” Erickson said. “If we get our minds into it and work as a team and encourage each other, I think we can go pretty far.”
Hingham will face another major test when it visits Brookline on Thursday.
“Going into Wellesley, I was super nervous because they had played really well this season,” O’Keefe said. “And then we won, so that definitely gave me a sense of, ‘Oh wow, we’re pretty good this year.’”
▪ With eight returning seniors, the Monomoy boys are determined to make more history this spring.
The Sharks (12-1) moved into the driver’s seat to win the Cape & Islands Lighthouse Division title when they avenged their only loss with a 4-1 victory over the Sturgis East/West co-op team on Wednesday.
“It was huge. It was great to see the fight the guys had,” Monomoy coach Reuben Bowman said. “We had lost a really close [game] at first doubles but those two players, Colin Malone and Charles Watson, fought for it and took care of it in straight sets. They came in with a fire in their belly and the rest of the team fed off it.”
In addition to Malone and Watson, Matt Barbella has led Monomoy’s second doubles alongside sophomore Gavin McDonnell. Seniors Troy Olson and Joe Malone have been impactful at first and third singles, respectively, while freshman Ryan Casey has provided a spark at second singles.
“Ryan has been our most consistent player all year,” Bowman said. “He hasn’t lost and he’s stepped up a couple times for us at first singles as well. He’s on a tear — opponents don’t take many points from him.”
▪ The Hamilton-Wenham girls (13-0) are on the verge of winning their first Cape Ann title in two decades, thanks in part to strong play from freshman Naomi Provost, who joined an already stacked singles group led by sophomore Sky Jara at first singles and junior Chloe Gern at third.
“We knew going into the season we had something special and it got even more special when we had [Provost] slip into our No. 2 singles spot,” Hamilton-Wenham second-year coach Joe Maher said. “She’s been awesome and is undefeated.”
Maher has relied on a stable of seniors at doubles, as Nora Gamber and Brynn McKenchnie have partnered at first doubles and classmates Lisette Leonard, Lily Cassidy and Libby Collins have split time in the second pairing.
Maher views the girls in Hamilton-Wenham’s Class of 2022 as one of the school’s best graduating classes of female athletes in recent memory.
“They’re not only great tennis players, they’ve had other athletic experiences to rely on in tough moments,” Maher said. “We’ve got girls that were on a state champion soccer team and girls that have made runs in volleyball or basketball or field hockey tournaments. They bring that great experience from all of their athletic performances.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org.