The next time you hear someoneask “Anyone for tennis?” the positive reply may well come from a member of the Saugerties High School varsity girls’ tennis team. The Sawyers are 2-0 on the young season, winning a pair of 3-2 nail-biters and proving they won’t back down when the match is on the line.
On Monday, Sept. 19, Saugerties hosted Red Hook, sweeping the doubles contest for the second straight time and getting a singles victory to seal the deal. Both doubles wins came in straight sets, but neither was a walk in the park, either. The tandem of Katelyn Noecker and Giovana Guimares outlasted Red Hook’s Katye Totten and Melissa Haggerty 6-3, 7-5; Emily Langton and Meghan Creen also refused to give in, beating Kerstin Coons and Chloe Goff 7-6, 6-4.
Monday’s singles win for the Sawyers came from Rebeca Zolet, who overcame an early bump in the road to turn the tables on Christine Munisteri 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
The win came six days after Saugerties opened its season in similar fashion on the road against Marlboro with the same doubles teams coming out on top, and a singles victory – this time by Carly Daniels – providing the edge.
Though the Sawyers came into the season with little fanfare, the team already looks set to give the league a run for its money over the next several weeks. The team’s success will be determined by its players, many of whom took drastically different paths to the sport.
Daniels, a senior in her fourth year on the team, has been playing tennis for half her life. What she likes most about the game is its disparities.
“It’s both a team and single-player sport,” Daniels said. “So you have to rely on yourself as much as everyone else.”
Zolet, also a senior, has been playing tennis since the age of 12. She enjoys the sport in part because it’s something she believes she’ll be doing for the rest of her life. Camaraderie is also a piece of the puzzle.
“Tennis is a lifetime sport,” she said. “No matter your age, there is always a way to play. It is also a great way to learn a lot about yourself and find your inner strength. The bonds made with all the girls on the team are some that will never be forgotten. We are not only a team, but a family.”
Noecker, a senior in her third season on the team, didn’t really take the game seriously until joining in 2009. She enjoys adopting a philosophical perspective to tennis.
“This is going to sound funny, but I really love to observe players’ serves,” she said. “They are all so unique, and I feel like you can tell what type of personality a person has by their serve.”
The tennis season is a quick one when compared to others on the fall slate, with the encroaching chilly temperatures and wind seemingly less of an issue for soccer or football. Beginning with their game on September 19, the Sawyers will have packed in nine matches by Wednesday, Oct. 5. They’ll have hosted Red Hook, Spackenkill, Highland, Kingston and New Paltz in that span, with road trips to FDR, Wallkill, Ellenville and Onteora scattered throughout. The home contest against Spackenkill, played after the Saugerties Times went to press, was considered one of the toughest on the schedule, though none of the girls interviewed considered any particular team a rival.
“The other teams are friendly for the most part,” said Noecker. “Everyone always seems to dread playing Spackenkill, though.”
“Spackenkill and New Paltz have always been the toughest teams we play, but we have a really great chance to beat them this year,” she said.
Zolet said she believed the Sawyers have a good chance of success against everyone they’ll play.
“I think that all the teams we play are challenging competitors so it will be interesting to see who stands out this season,” she said.
Perhaps the team that truly stands out will be the Sawyers.
“I think all the teams we play are very strong competitors, but so are we,” Zolet said. “Every girl on the team puts forth her strongest effort every game.”
That effort, in addition to the team’s strong bond, could be what gives Saugerties the edge this season.
“I think our team’s strongest quality is that we are so much like a family,” Zolet said. “We cheer each other on every game and that helps a lot when you are playing. We are very hard-working as well and never give up a challenge.”
Extending that feeling of family, Noecker responded matter-of-factly to a question about the team’s strongest qualities with the following: “Our team moms!”
For Daniels, being able to compete for Saugerties High with this particular bunch of girls is especially meaningful in her senior season.
“I’m really going to miss everyone after I graduate,” she said. “I’m really grateful for the chance to play this year after almost losing sports, and it’s great to represent my school.” l