By Meredith Cook
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2009-2010 tennis season is one full of great promise for the
Crusaders, with a variety of new pieces, including a new coach,
added to an already potent lineup. After finishing with a winning
record of 10-8 last year, the squad looks to take the next step and
become a force in the Patriot League.
Leading Holy Cross will be senior team captain Kristen Meahl, who ranks as the squad's No. 1 singles player. Last year, Meahl became only the second Holy Cross women's tennis player to ever earn All-Patriot League honors as she made the second team after finishing the season with a 14-12 overall record. This year she will look to lead the team to greater success. "Kristen Meahl is a key component to our team's success," said first-year head coach Lisa Meola. "She not only provides leadership on the court, but adds an element of academic excellence that registers with the entire team."
Along with Meahl, the team boasts three other seniors who have
been valuable assets to the program for the last three years. This
season will be no different, as the Crusaders will lean on their
seniors for leadership, guidance and strong play.
Playing primarily at the No. 3 doubles spot and the No. 6 singles spot, Kathryn Wilkie is what Meola calls the team's "most versatile player." Last year, Wilkie went 9-2 overall at singles and went 8-8 overall at doubles. She also set a career-best .818 singles winning percentage, which led the team. Climbing up the ranks in the offseason, Wilkie will be a major component for the team's success.
Rounding out the senior class are two players Meola describes as "incredible overall athletes and strong team players." Hailee Lange comes back after finishing last season as the team's No. 4 and No. 5 singles player. After going 10-12 overall at singles last year, Lange will continue to provide a constant element to the singles lineup. Ivette Konopka set a career-best .632 singles winning percentage, ranking third on the team after the 2008-2009 season. This year she will be the team's No. 5 and No. 6 singles player and remain as a No. 2 doubles player as well.
Also adding to the team's roster are five sophomores. Leading the class will be the team's No. 3 and No. 4 singles player, Carolyn Chandley. Meola describes Chandley as "an athlete who is always willing to improve and try harder." Chandley completed last season with a 14-10 overall at singles and a 14-12 overall at doubles. Her 14 singles wins tied for the team lead, while her 14 doubles victories led the team. She will continue as the team's No. 1 doubles player.
Fellow sophomore Emily Marr, who Meola coached while at Notre Dame Academy, also made waves as a freshman. She ranks as the team's No. 2 player in singles and doubles and comes off a season where her 14 singles wins tied for the lead on the team and her .636 singles winning percentage ranked second on the team. Her 10 doubles wins tied for second on the team.
Meola believes that the final three sophomores, Jen Daffron, Rosemary Moran and Emma Rudnik have all "made major improvements from last season." Each player has hopes to move up the ranks this year.
Four newcomers are also looking to make a major impact. Freshman Jessica DeSimone arrives to Worcester after playing four years of varsity tennis at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, R.I. She finished her senior year as the No. 1 singles player and captain of the team. She also boasts a great academic demeanor, as she graduated fourth in her class with a 4.0 GPA. Fellow freshman Lindsay Harrington joins the team after spending three of her high school years under the guidance of Meola at Notre Dame Academy. While there, she was the No. 2 singles player as a senior and the No. 1 doubles player as a junior. She was a Telegram & Gazette All-Star in 2007and 2008 and won the Central Mass. Doubles Championship two years in a row (2007 and 2008). Two sophomores, Lauren Evans and Meaghan Fitzpatrick, complete the 2009-2010 roster.
This year's schedule remains very close to the one the team played last year. With a strong returning roster and two stellar additions, Meola hopes to "overcome the close losses and continue our winning ways." Meola did not waste any time readying her team for competition as the fall campaign starts up in the second week of September.