Millis Girls Tennis Looking to Finally Get Back to the Tournament

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
April, 2020
Article Body: 

It’s been seven years since the Millis girl’s tennis team advanced into the State Tournament, but Mohawk Coach Tom Ingraham is optimistic that 2020 could be the year Millis gets back into post-season play after putting together a rather successful 2019 campaign.
Last spring, Millis put together a 6-4 season, and according to the coach, were just a couple of sets from making the long-awaited visit back to the tournament. In order to accomplish this goal, Millis is going to need to have its returners step up this season after losing both its number one singles player and Tri Valley League All Star Kaitlyn Stallings and its number two singles player Lily Denman.
Despite losing its top two players from last year’s successful season, Coach Tom Ingraham has the remaining five starters, as well as a handful of experienced tennis players, coming back to the courts this spring. While the official beginning to the season has yet to commence at the time of this writing, Ingraham’s thoughts of who is going to play where are just early season projections. Positions may change depending on how the challenge matches go once the team takes to the courts.
After seeing action last year primarily in the third singles position, with an occasional afternoon at second singles, sophomore Allie Stallings looks to have her sights set on obtaining Millis’s number one singles player this season.
“Playing first singles is brutal, but she is making a real strong push for the top spot,” the Millis coach said. “She has worked hard during the off-season, and as a sophomore, she may be our number one singles player.”
Junior Maddie Donovan, who began playing doubles last season and eventually moved up to third singles near the end of the year when Denman was hurt, looks to have second singles in her sight this year. Ingraham believes the junior will once again be a clutch performer for the Mohawks.
Playing doubles with Donovan last season was Autumn O’Connell, and this year, she could quite possibly move up to singles with her double’s teammate playing in the third sport.
“Autumn has the potential to step up this year and play singles for us,” the Millis Coach said. “There is definitely a big difference in going from doubles to singles; mentally you have to rely totally on yourself, and there is much more court to cover. Maddie and Autumn are both soccer players, so they can move and should be able to handle the courts.”
Ingraham has the confidence that his two doubles players can make the jump this season, but once again, it’s all based on challenge matches once the team officially takes to the courts.
On the doubles circuits this year, its possible that senior captains Kate Spangenberg and Grace Magilligan, both elected unanimously by their teammates, will be on the same court. According to the Millis coach, both girls would like to be on the court together, but he’s not sure if it will happen.
“They’re hoping to play doubles together, but it’s all about the meshing of the right people,” Ingraham said. “We need to evaluate strengths and weaknesses and do what’s right for the team, not the individuals.”
Other athletes returning with some experience from last year’s team are seniors Mia Coutts, Emma Rice, Abby Barrett and Stephanie Hubbell. The coach has all the confidence in the world in the four girls, but once he gets to further see what they can and can’t do, then he’ll make his decisions to who will be playing where and with whom.
Making it into the tournament may tougher than it seems. Ingraham believes that the TVL is one of the better tennis leagues in the state, especially in the small division playing against Dover-Sherborn.
“Dover-Sherborn is head and shoulders the best team in the TVL, both large and small,” he said. “Everyone else is pretty even through the league, so I like our chances.”
Ingraham stated he’d be a little disappointed if the Mohawks didn’t finally advance in to the state tournament this season despite losing its top two singles players. The returning girls are all hungry and ready to make the move forward into the tournament and have even been taking lessons to improve their games.
While the overall body of the team looks to improve its game, one big issue that will get in the Mohawks’ way is the inability to practice and play on a home court. For the third straight year, Millis will be heading into the season without having a home court to play on. Therefore, the girls will play all their games on the road away from Millis. It’s a possibility that the courts will be ready near the tail end of the season, but it won’t be known until then.
Last season, Millis was able to practice on the Medway middle school courts, but with the Medway high school courts being worked on, they’re forced to move to the middle school, leaving Millis without a court to practice on.
“Having to play all of our games on the road and practice outside of our town has been an inconvenience,” said the coach. “But with that said, I have got to give the girls a ton of respect as no one has complained about the situation at all.”
While not having the full support they’d have if they played in Millis, nor knowing exactly where each girl will play once the season gets underway the tennis team is still planning on taking to the courts and giving it everything that they have. Hopefully, that is enough to finally propel them into the tournament for the first time in many years.