Spring Sports Preview

Mohawk, Greenfield’s sights set high

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Greenfield senior Alexis Silk will again be a top singles player for the Green Wave this season.

    Recorder/Peter MacDonald
    Greenfield senior Alexis Silk will again be a top singles player for the Green Wave this season.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.

  • Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts

    Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.
    photo by J. Anthony Roberts

  • Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts

    Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.
    photo by J. Anthony Roberts

  • Greenfiels senior Alexis Silk will once again be a top singles player for the Wave this season.<br/>12/5/23 MacDonald

    Greenfiels senior Alexis Silk will once again be a top singles player for the Wave this season.
    12/5/23 MacDonald

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Greenfield senior Alexis Silk will again be a top singles player for the Green Wave this season.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.
  • Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts
  • Turners Falls junior Sara Bradley played No. 2 singles last season but will move up to the spot this spring.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts
  • Greenfiels senior Alexis Silk will once again be a top singles player for the Wave this season.<br/>12/5/23 MacDonald

Four Franklin County girls tennis programs are about to get their Tri-County North League seasons underway: Frontier Regional School, Greenfield High School, Mohawk Trail Regional High School, and Turners Falls High School. They will be joined in the TCL North by Chicopee Comprehensive High School.

Given the winter weather that has refused to yield, even as the calendar has turned to spring, it has been difficult for the coaches to determine a lot up to this point. Most teams have not been able to make it outside onto the courts, and those that have are practicing in less than ideal conditions. While many specifics are still up in the air, below is a closer look at each of the local programs.

Mohawk (9-5)

The Warriors come into the season as defending TCL North champions, finishing 5-1 in the league and losing to Lee High School in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Girls’ Team Tennis Tournament last year. While they lost six of eight players to graduation, head coach Christian Austin feels very good about his new-look team.

“It’s my fifth year of coaching, and I’ve never had such a strong crop of players that are new to the sport, and they are all very promising,” said Austin.

That is good news for Austin, as only one player, sophomore Nelly O’Connell, will be returning. While O’Connell has the inside track to a top-three singles slot, the rest of the field is wide open.

“We’ve been limited to hitting styrofoam balls in the cafeteria, so we’re nowhere near ready to create a ladder,” said Austin. “It’s going to be a tight last week getting ready to face competition.”

New to the Mohawk program are senior Ashley Robinson, juniors Laura Spencer and Olivia Girard, and sophomores Sarah Malone and Kylee Cole. They are joined by eighth-graders Lilly Seaver and Mary Monahan, and seventh-graders Jennifer Boyle and Amber Barbeau.

“It’s a young and inexperienced group, but they are all very good athletes, and they are very enthusiastic and coachable.” offered Austin. “I’m very encouraged.”

Greenfield (11-3)

The Green Wave, coming off a second-place finish in the TCL North and a first-round tournament loss to Monument Mountain Regional High School, appear poised to make a serious run at the league crown, and have a legitimate shot to go far come tournament time. Greenfield returns seven seniors, all of whom have the inside track at spots on the ladder. Manisha Malek, Alexis Silk, and Courtney Kimball are the front-runners for singles spots, and Shannon Gibson, Ashley Lowell, Allison Rowe and Cheynna Woodard look to lock down spots in doubles.

The Wave is by far the deepest and most experienced team in the league, and head coach Barry McColgan is very excited to get the season started.

“I have a standing rule that we don’t practice outside unless it’s above 40 degrees, as the cold can lead to injuries,” said McColgan. “It’s been tough with 23 players inside, but we’re hopeful to be outside next week.”

Also returning for Greenfield are juniors Olivia Katsoulis, Nicole Ivatchev and Eugenia Cocojaru, along with sohomore Daniella Cocojaru. Newcomers that McColgan will keep a close eye on are freshman Marium Samake and senior Teresa Ragg, an exchange student from Germany. The roster will be rounded out by a large crop of freshmen, who will play very little competitive tennis, but will be kept around to learn and work on their form.

“I’m keeping them all. I don’t like to make cuts,” said McColgan. “It’s important that they get as much practice as they can, and that they watch and learn as much strategy as possible.”

Frontier (8-8)

After a third-place TCL North finish last year at 4-4, the Red Hawks will be a very young team this season. Frontier returns just seven players, none of whom are seniors, and only one junior, AJ Mensah. Joining Mensah are three sophomores, Alli Zera, Lilly Schulman and Crystal Niedbala. The three remaining returnees are all eighth-graders, Annalise Zera, Emily Tourigny and Keeghan Thompson.

“I have no idea what my ladder will look like this year, and won’t be able to begin to determine that until we can get outside and find out which kids know which end of the racquet to hold,” quipped head coach Steve Barrett. “There’s a foot of ice and snow on the courts right now. We can’t even get the nets up yet, and at 62 years old, my days of shoveling the courts are over.”

Given the circumstances, it’s very difficult for Barrett to gauge expectations for his team.

“What I’ve told the kids is that this isn’t Little League. It’s based on how good you are, and the players who are better are the ones who will play.”

Turners (3-11)

After a tough season in which they went winless in league play, the Indians again look to be a young team that will have its struggles.There are no seniors returning, though junior Sara Bradley, who played at No. 2 singles last year, is likely bound for the top of this year’s ladder.

Joining Bradley are Jade Linscott, Kortney Thurbur, Carlie Kretchmar, Julia Massey, Felicia Craver, Kaili Lynch, Alysha Wozniak, Hailey Trott and Victoria Veadry, and possibly a few latecomers.

Because of the bad weather and head coach Victor Gonzalez having obligations to tend to, the team has not yet practiced, according to an email from Turners athletic director Glenn Doulette. Further details were unavailable as of press time.

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