Grafton girls’ tennis hopes to build off of last year’s success

(l to r) Grafton High girls varsity tennis captains Rae Deveney, Natasha Shiku, and Apoorva Indraghanty Photo/John Orrell

(l to r) Grafton High girls varsity tennis captains Rae Deveney, Natasha Shiku, and Apoorva Indraghanty
Photo/John Orrell

Grafton – Anyone in the market for a truly fun high school team to follow this spring would be doing themselves a favor to catch more than a glimpse of the Grafton High (GHS) girls’ varsity tennis team.

The squad that logged a disappointing 3-11 record in 2014 turned it all around in a big way just one year later emerging from the shadows to shine with a 12-3 mark while advancing to the Central Mass. Division 3 semifinals. Should anyone theorize that the successful 2015 season was a one-year wonder aberration, think again.

The Indians are off to a sizzling 6-0 start after knocking off previously undefeated SWCL West leader Quaboag High, 4-1, at the GHS courts on April 27. The team sits alone atop SWCL East with confidence and camaraderie that has this team impervious to any and all competitors.

“The girls who are playing now have actually improved from last year and I thought they were great last year,” said third-year head coach Sarah Travers. “Their skills have gotten even better. This is a team of 15 girls who love being together. They’re always cheering each other on and always laughing. This is really a fun team to coach.”

“We realized that we really needed to push ourselves and get back to where we were five or six years ago when the team was really good so we wanted to repeat that,” echoed senior co-captain

Apoorva Indraghanty, who will be heading to the University of Rochester to study epidemiology as a med student. “We have a lot of really good players and we’re just really motivated to go as far as we can.

“The chemistry is really great on this team. We’re all really close with each other and we’re progressing well on the season. It’s nice to have what feels like another family.”

The 2016 squad is led by captains Indraghanty, Rae Deveney and Natasha Shiku. Indraghanty     switches between second doubles and singles where needed, not always an easy transformation, but does it well, according to Travers.

Deveney, a junior, is a battler and has established herself as number one singles player and is a top competitor in SWCL. Shiku and Michaela Perkins, both seniors, are the number one doubles tandem who played together in 2015 and made first team SWCL.

Sophomore Miki Azuma anchors the number two singles spot and is a powerhouse. She can hit the ball harder than any girl on the team, according to Travers, and has incredible spin and slice on her serves.

Senior Katie Mason is solid at number three singles after taking up tennis in just her freshman year, and has made amazing strides. She is considered one of the top athletes on the team, is a battler and covers the court as well as anyone.

Travers is a staunch proponent of keeping all players active and engaged in matches. Expect also to see ample court time for senior Mia Gremo; juniors Wafa Daher, Lisa Sulmasy: sophomores Caitlyn Nguyen, Meghana Shenoy, Varnika Sinha and freshmen Akshitha Balagani, Jenna Lee and Sonia Purohit.

“We are really good together as a team and we know what to do together to win and we really motivate each other,” Deveney explained. “We’re all friends and have been playing together for years so we really know each other.

“Everyone wants to win but they want to win together. We also focus on the newer members and making sure they get experience and lots of skills.”

“The team has a different mindset and the players really want to win,” added Shiku, who is Nichols College-bound following graduation. She plans to study international business and marketing management. “We support each other on and off the tennis court which is good because that dynamic helps us a lot.

“I’ve been here when the team wasn’t so successful and I’ve watched it get better so I want my last year to be my last hurrah. I hope we make it very far in the Districts.”

Going deep into the playoffs is the goal of Travers and her players and with the talent and determination that this team exudes on and off the court, it should not be ruled out. Perhaps it is Indraghanty who says it best and right to the point; no elaboration needed.

“As a senior, I want to finish my last season really strong,” she said with affirmation. “It would make me so happy.”




Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=73829

Posted by on Apr 30 2016. Filed under Byline Stories, Grafton, Sports, Stories With Good Photos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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