When you graduate five seniors off a two-loss squad – like the Narragansett girls tennis team did last fall – the obvious thought is the biggest hit must have come in singles.
No. 1 Heather Dorich and No. 3 Gabby Smith were certainly solid for the Mariners last season but where graduation hit hardest was in doubles play.
Victoria McGreen, Eliza DeCubellis and Ali Castrovillari each played doubles last fall and were a big reason why the Mariners went 10-2 during the regular season before falling to Classical in the Division II Semifinals.
“We were 39-2 in doubles. That’s extraordinary,” second-year coach Peter Barlow says. “We lost two doubles matches all year. I can tell you that will never happen. That’s just an extraordinary statistic.
“We had three very good doubles teams that pretty much swapped places so there was some real good competition amongst the three teams.”
Even with the graduation losses, Barlow feels his team should be solid again this season.
“I think we’ll be very competitive,” he says. “I feel good about the girls we have playing in singles and doubles matches.
“It’s a new team. Five seniors graduated and of course last year was my first year so it was all brand new. This year a lot more is known and fortunately we’ve had JV players step up.”
At this point in the season Narragansett’s ladder is not set but the team is starting to take shape after the first two weeks of practice.
“First week we play a bunch of mini matches and we try and have everybody play everybody,” Barlow says. “Second week there’s a little more form to it. Second week I do some more selective pairings and I know who the top four or five are going to be.”
The top two spots at singles will likely go to either senior Olivia Scalora or junior Eily Sullivan as the two have been battling back and forth for the top position on the ladder.
From there Barlow says a group of three girls – seniors Kristen Gershkoff, Marianna Sanchez and sophomore Maddie Gilbert – are going to comprise the remaining spots in singles, with the odd girls out playing doubles.
While Barlow has not cemented his lineup, he did say that Sanchez – who played No. 1 singles for the junior varsity last season – has made tremendous improvements.
“Mariana has probably been the most improved,” Barlow says. “She played soccer her first two years, came out last year and played JV and this year she’s progresses to where she’s playing No. 3 or No. 4 singles or No. 1 doubles.”
Whichever of the three does not play singles will join senior Kara Heatherton at No. 1 doubles, while juniors Brooke McGreen and Ashley Kennedy are slotted to play at second doubles.
Senior MacKenzie Page and junior Sarah Hoxsie have the inside track to the third and final doubles spot but Barlow did say he’s liked what he’s seen from freshmen twins Kristie and Katie Goglia as well.
While things have gone well on the court for the Mariners so far it has not been all great as the team’s JV coach left shortly before the start of the season, leaving Barlow to do double duty.
“We’re short but we’re making due,” Barlow says. “It’s difficult to find someone at this time of year.”
Narragansett will begin its season today at 3:30 p.m. home against Lincoln and will be back in action Friday at 3:45 p.m. when the Mariners travel to take on Portsmouth.