(May 10, 2019) The Worcester Prep girls’ and boys’ tennis teams finished the regular season with undefeated records after earning victories over the Saint Thomas More Ravens on Monday, but it was extra special for coaches Cyndee Hudson and Debbie Speier.
The win was their 200th overall since they started coaching the girls’ squad in 2002.
“We were afraid we were going to end up with 199, with all the rainouts and everything,” Assistant Coach Speier said. “Just thinking back on all the girls that have come through the program, when some of them started they hadn’t picked up a racket and [later] went on to play in college. It’s just so exciting for us.”
The coaches now have a 200-15 record. They have helped lead the team to nine undefeated seasons.
“It’s a huge one. We’ve been very luck girls were interested and pretty good in tennis,” Hudson said. “We’ve played teams from Maryland, Delaware, and we used to play teams from Virginia, public and private schools. We’ve played a variety of formats and changed the lineup, and the girls have been flexible.”
Hudson said she has enjoyed her time as head coach, but it is time to step down. Both Hudson and Speier will officially retire from coaching at the end of the season.
“It’s bittersweet,” Hudson said. “It’s been fun. I’ll miss it for sure. There’s been a ton of great memories.”
“We created a culture. We’re very proud of the girls. We’re proud that, every match, they come out and give 100 percent, sometimes more than that,” Speier added. “They just work hard, they improve [and] they work in the offseason. I’m happy for them.”
Hudson was exceptionally pleased with the Lady Mallards’ performance on Monday. The team won 6-1.
Both juniors Abi Plylar and Annika Larsen had solid performances at first and second singles, respectively.
Plylar lost to a strong opponent, but gave it her all. Larsen got off to a good start and rolled on to an 8-2 victory.
“It’s great when you can start with a bang instead of working yourself out a hole,” Hudson said.
Freshman Sumira Sehgal has made great progress in her first year on the team, Hudson said. She stayed in the points and capitalized when her opponent made mistakes. Sehgal won her third singles match, 8-2.
“She’s really come a long way,” Hudson said.
Saint Thomas More forfeited the fourth and fifth singles matches.
Junior Mesa Cammack played doubles with sophomore Summer Walker for the first time.
“I was thrilled for them winning 8-0,” Hudson said.
The second doubles team of juniors Kennedy Humes and Korina Gjikuria was “as strong as ever,” Hudson said, shutting out their opponents, 8-0.
The Prep boys’ team won, 7-0.
Senior captains Dominic Anthony (8-3), Will Todd (8-1) and Graham Hammond (8-0) were successful at first through third singles, respectively.
“Dominic was dominant. He had his opponent really moving a lot. He mixed his shots well,” Prep Coach Terry Underkoffler said. “I think his opponent wasn’t ready for the power that he was coming out there with, and Will Todd was his methodical, calculating self.
“He was figuring out his opponent and just playing consistent tennis,” Underkoffler added. “His first serve was really on, and Graham served and played a consistent forehand game.”
The Ravens forfeited the fourth and fifth singles matches.
Underkoffler said he was proud of the doubles players.
“We featured some seniors that invested their time for us for four years. They’ve gotten so much better since they were ninth graders,” Underkoffler said. “It’s awesome for those guys.”
Seniors Parker Brandt and Nick Lange topped their first doubles opponents, 8-1.
Seniors Matt Durkin and Ethan Scheiber earned an 8-0 shutout at second doubles.
Worcester will now compete in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship on Saturday at 11 a.m. on Salisbury University’s courts.
Both teams swept the singles and doubles tournaments in 2018.
Representing the 13-0 girls’ team in singles competition will be Plylar, Larsen and senior Maya Natesan.
Cammack and junior Saylar McGuiness will play doubles, along with teams of sophomore Waverly Choy and Walker, and Humes and Gjikuria.
There will be five schools competing on the girls’ side: Worcester Prep, Salisbury School, Saints Peter and Paul, Gunston Day and Delmarva Christian.
This week, the girls planned to work on returns and serving. If the girls advance to the championship round they will have competed in four matches on Saturday.
Hudson said the girls needed to play smart, be selective and finish points quickly to conserve energy.
Taking the court for the 10-0 boys’ squad will be Anthony, and sophomores Ryan Brafman and Ben Brandt at singles.
Hammond and senior captain Colin Miller will play doubles, along with sophomore Joe Schwartz and junior Frank Carter, and seniors Alex Canakis and Cameron Hill.
The boys’ tournament will include Worcester, Gunston and Salisbury School.
“We look sharp. We have a week to prepare and we’ll do our best,” Underkoffler said on Monday. “We have some good competition coming in against us.”
Underkoffler said the boys needed to serve well and be consistent.
“They’re not used to playing several matches within a day, so they’re going to have to manage their body well, hydrate, eat between matches, and be able to play at 10 a.m. and be strong at 4 p.m,” he said.
If the Mallards advance to the championship round, they have the potential to play three matches in one day, Underkoffler said.
“Our team strength is our depth,” he said. “We have so many good players and it’s exciting. Our seniors going out built this. They set the standard.”