EPHS girls’ tennis team opens 2021 with fresh approach

Roster includes returnees in new spots, newcomers to varsity

 By Mike Rego
Posted 9/8/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — A new year sees the East Providence High School girls’ tennis team enter the 2021 season with some fresh faces mixed in with a few capable veteran players.

As well, …

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EPHS girls’ tennis team opens 2021 with fresh approach

Roster includes returnees in new spots, newcomers to varsity

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — A new year sees the East Providence High School girls’ tennis team enter the 2021 season with some fresh faces mixed in with a few capable veteran players.

As well, construction on the new high school campus, including removal of the old courts, means the Townies have a new home this fall, the KendBrin Swim & Tennis Club on Hospital Road in Riverside.

East Providence finished with a 2-4 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 Division III season. The Townies return to a full compliment of outings this year, playing 16 league matches.

“The vibe is much different then last year,” said EPHS head coach Cory Duquette, entering his fourth season leading the program.

“I think the girls are excited about having a full schedule,” he continued. “It’s very nice because a lot of underclassmen are hungry. They want to start, and you can see the improvement from the beginning of practice until now.”

E.P. lost six players off of its 2020 roster either to graduation or to volleyball now that the high school athletics calendar has returned to its usual schedule. Girls’ volleyball was played during the spring last school year instead of its typical fall date due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns.

Despite that, Duquette and his assistant Slade Sharma are buoyed by the some two dozen student-athletes who have come out for the team.

Senior Houn Kim is the only returning singles player. She saw time at the two and three positions a year ago and likely begins this year in the latter spot.

Juniors Jaelyn DaSilva and Emma Gilheeney move up from doubles to play in the first and fourth singles positions, respectively.

Sophomore Lena Shanty enters the lineup at No. 2, an impressive rise up the ranks from the 12th spot on the Townies' ladder a year ago and without seeing any varsity playing time.

“We have a solid singles group and solid doubles as well,” Duquette said of his ladder. “I have a lot of girls who played doubles or did not even play last year who have moved up into the lineup and have totally exceeded my expectations.”

Juniors Olivia Pannone and Katelyn Furtado start as the No. 1 doubles pairing. Sophomores Caroline Haggerty and Isabella Hurley form the second doubles tandem with juniors Paris Martin and Natalie Hughes holding down the third position. Hurley, Pannone and Furtado are returning starters.

Sophomore Mackenzie Botelho and freshman Margaret Robinson are the next players on the ladder likely to see time due to illness or injury.

“I have a very good feeling about this year,” Duquette continued. “We have a lot of underclassmen and freshmen coming into the varsity, which is great. I started recruiting them from middle school. Last year was definitely a building experience. And this year, I think we’ll be able to capitalize on that. “I would love to make playoffs, but just seeing overall improvement from the girls would be great.”

The Townies were slated to open their 2021 season in Pawtucket at Slater Park against Tolman on September 8. EPHS is scheduled to play its first home match Friday afternoon, Sept. 10, against West Warwick at 3:30. The locals head to Warwick and Bishop Hendricken to face neighbor Bay View to open next week, September 14, and remain on the road to face Central in Providence on September 16.

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