League champs return with new faces
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The first goal of the 2014 league co-champ Lady Raider tennis team is to just to get outside on their home turf.
Mother Nature has made their pre-season a challenge like many of the spring sport teams, but fortunately for the Lady Raiders their court at Crystal Street in Melrose was cleared of snow weeks ago, making it easier for them to get outside this week.
Melrose opens their season this Wednesday (post deadline) against Winchester and that action will take place indoors at the Winchester Indoor Lawn and Tennis Club.
“”The weather has not been our friend but the Rec. Dept. did a great job of shoveling off our courts so we can get out there,” says longtime head coach Deb Deacon. As for what the team brings to the court? “We are most certainly a young team as we have four seniors.”
Leading the team are two senior captains Amanda Sampson and Kendyll Chapman and junior captain Jackie Pereira, who will be starting at the #1 singles spot this year. Pereira has been strong for the Lady Raiders over the last two seasons and will be followed in singles by junior Meghan Leyne and freshman Lily Fitzgerald, both of whom are experienced tennis players.
In doubles, Melrose will see play from Hannah Butler (junior) and Olivia Zibatis (sophomore) in first doubles while Julia McLaughlin (junior) and Miranda Lombardo (junior) will serve in second doubles.
“We are growing and developing after winning the league championship last year, when we were co-champs with Burlington,” says the coach.
This week the team will venture outside to get the lay of the land. Having a reduced amount of courts is a challenge that Deacon is working with now, and will throughout the season. The renovation of the Tremont Street courts have reduced their court availability and there is hope the project will be done by summer, when their season is already over. In the meantime Melrose girls’ and boys’ tennis teams need to rotate match time at Crystal Street, while sub-varsity and non-starters will play a number of inter-team challenges, some on the road (as available) and a few scheduled at Bellevue in April.
“We’re doing the best we can. We’re working with a Red and White team concept so we don’t have to cut players, but with the renovation we are down to four courts for all home matches which will be a bit of a challenge for match play.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about the weather. “We can’t wait to see the sunshine and warmth,” she comments.
2015 Season Schedule*
Wed. 4/1 3:30 p.m. @ Winchester
Mon. 4/6 3:30 p.m. vs. Belmont
Thu. 4/9 3:30 p.m. vs. Arlington
Mon. 4/13 3:30 p.m. @ Stoneham
Wed. 4/15 3:30 p.m. @ Wilmington
Fri. 4/17 3:30 p.m. @ Burlington
Mon. 4/27 3:30 p.m. vs. Wakefield
Wed. 4/29 3:30 p.m. vs. Watertown
Fri. 5/1 3:30 p.m. @ Lexington
Mon. 5/4 3:30 p.m. @ Reading
Wed. 5/06 3:30 p.m. vs. Woburn
Thu. 5/7 3:30 p.m. vs. Stoneham
Mon. 5/11 3:30 p.m. vs. Wilmington
Wed. 5/13 3:30 p.m. vs. Burlington
Thu. 5/14 3:30 p.m. @ Wakefield
Mon. 5/18 3:30 p.m. @ Watertown
*home matches at Crystal Street Court, Melrose