NARRAGANSETT – So far, so good for the Narragansett girls tennis team.
There may not have been much for the Mariners to have gained or learned as they took on an inferior Lincoln team in their season opening match on Wednesday at Sprague Park, but the season still got itself off on the right foot as Narragansett did not drop a set en route to the 7-0 sweep of the Lions.
“It’s always good to get the first match going,” said Narragansett coach Peter Barlow. “Probably taking the long view, it’s better to have an easier one than a tough one. I always tell the girls, good first win.
“They all knew, with the exception of maybe one singles, they knew after a game or two they were going to win the match, so they relaxed in their playing. …We didn’t learn a lot today given that level of competition.”
Facing a team that finished 0-12 last season, and projects to suffer a similar fate this fall, the Mariners knew they were not facing the best Division II had to offer before even taking the court on Wednesday. It was an inclination that did not change once play started, either, as Narragansett took the first game in every match and every set they played.
The No. 1 doubles team of Kara Heatherton and Maddie Gilbert took home the first point of the day, despite looking like the team that was struggling the most early in their match. Lincoln’s Samantha
Martone and Meera Sundaram kept into close early as the first set opened 3-2, but from there it was cruise control for Heatherton and Gilbert as they did not drop another game, winning the match 6-2, 6-0.
Narragansett saw similar dominance out of their other doubles teams. Ashley Kennedy and Brooke McGreen did not drop a game until deep into the second set in their 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 2 doubles. The No. 3 team of Mackenzie Page and Sarah Hoxsie allowed their opponents to hang around a little bit longer than Kennedy and McGreen did, but that did not stop them from also winning in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.
The singles matches saw some tighter sets against Lincoln, but the Mariners were still never really threatened in any of these matches either.
At the top, Olivia Scalora got off to a hot start playing in the No. 1 singles spot, going up 3-0 before winning the first set 6-2. Talia Akay stoles a few more games late in the second set against the Mariners’ top gun, but fell once again, 6-3, for yet another straight sets win.
Eily Sullivan faced little threat at all from Elizabeth Wahl at No. 2 singles, winning 6-0, 6-1. Much like at No. 1, Lincoln’s Kathleen Barbieri got some extra points late against Kristen Gershkoff at No. 3 singles, but after Gershkoff won the first set 6-2, it was too late for Barbieri to make any sort of rally in the second set, which she ultimately dropped 6-3.
Marianna Sanchez wrapped up the day for Narragansett at No. 4 singles, taking home the seventh and final point of the match with an easy 6-0, 6-1 victory.
As happy as Barlow and the Mariners were to open the season with such an easy win on Wednesday, especially with the five new players they had in the starting lineup, they know it was just that and not necessarily the best indication of how things might be as the season rolls along.
“You know how the girls play in practice matches. You never know how they’re going to play in a match until they play the match,” Barlow said. “Take that one step further, you never know how they are going to react to the match when it’s a close match. …The second step is how do they play in a real competitive, close match? How do you react? The last thing is how do you play when you’re losing? Being an athlete, those are just kind of the three scenarios. The jury’s still out on two and three.
“The real match will be Monday when we go to Portsmouth. Last year they were far and away the best team in the league. …We didn’t learn anything today and we’re probably not going to learn much of anything on Friday. After the Monday match we’ll know a lot. That will be the first real indicator.”
Before they get to Portsmouth on Monday, however, Narragansett still has one more opponent to face to round out their first week on their schedule.
They must first take care of business on Friday when they travel north for a 3:30 p.m. match against East Providence.