By JAMES BESSETTE
WAKEFIELD — South Kingstown No. 1 singles player Victoria Gu, along with her fellow senior co-captains from this season – Chloe Cullen, Laura Giarrusso and Emmah Mitrano – were just mere freshman back in 2007 when they first decided to swing tennis rackets with the Rebels, trying to wind their way through the tough road that is high-school tennis in Rhode Island.
Oddly enough, the South Kingstown girls’ tennis program, in general, was trying to do the exact same thing by trying to find its place at the Division I level.
The Rebels, four seasons ago, were in their second year of a four-year stint in the highest bracket of girls’ tennis in the state and South Kingstown, which had five stellar seasons in Division II prior to its jump – two of them resulting in trips to the Division II championship match at Slater Park, winning the title in 2002 – suddenly felt mortal and without an identity.
In her first three seasons with the team, Gu, along the rest of her teammates, had to grind and battle through some difficult times on the courts around the state, including their home courts at Broad Rock Middle School. South Kingstown, from 2007 through last fall, won a “grand” total of five matches and had a win total of “love” in 13 matches last season.
When it came time for schools around the state to make their realignment for their respective sports and with a need to bring some life back into the program, South Kingstown head coach Mary Lou Morrisette didn’t think twice about what would be best for her Rebels, especially the ones that would be spending their final season in Rebels’ tennis attire.
South Kingstown returned to familiar territory in more ways than one this season. In making the move back to Division II, the newer slate of Rebels picked up right where the South Kingstown players from the past left off.
The Rebels had a standout season that was six years in the making in Division II, going 12-2 and finishing second in II-South, with their only two defeats coming at the hands of undefeated and title-favorite East Greenwich.
The season reached its climax on Tuesday when South Kingstown dominated in its first playoff match in four seasons, rolling over Lincoln 5-0 in the opening round of the Division II tournament at Broad Rock Middle School.
For more on this and other South Kingstown sports, pick up the 10/30 edition of the Narragansett Times.