2007-01-18 / News

Skippers tennis steps up competition in Division I

By Adrienne Downing

The North Kingstown girls' tennis team made a big leap this year. The girls moved from Division II, where the Skippers were second in the state behind East Greenwich last year, to Division I this past fall.

While it was a tough season for the team, finishing 3-10, head coach Lisa Vinacco saw a lot of positives.

"This was a huge step for us. The competition is so much greater, but it was a big year to advance and see what is out there," Vinacco said. "They learned strategy, to capitalize on other teams' weaknesses."

Team captains and seniors Chelsea Cordes and Jodie Woodside, both island residents, were key to the team's leadership. Cordes played in the number two singles spot and Woodside in the number three spot.

"There was a lot of pressure on them to try to win, and they were looked up to by the other girls," Vinacco explained. "Each week was tough, but you could never tell if they were winning or losing. They were not rattled if they were losing."

Vinacco said she asked a lot of her doubles teams this year, and they really stepped up to the challenge.

"The singles really gave it their all, and a lot of times the doubles were very competitive, and I relied on them to do a lot of things," she said.

Junior Leah Baines of Jamestown along with Claire Longren made up the team's number one doubles spot.

"Leah is a quiet leader. She leads by example. She is definitely going to step up next year as a senior," the coach said.

The number two doubles team consisted of islanders Allison Smith and Eloise Heath, both freshmen.

"They were really nervous in their first match, but after that they really improved mentally and tennis wise," Vinacco explained. "I know they felt more confident and not worried about letting anyone down."

Although Prout and the teams in the north were much stronger, Vinacco said she felt that it was the other teams in the south that gave them most of their competition.

"With those teams - East Greenwich, South Kingstown and Bayview - we were more competitive. Those were close matches that could have just as easily have given us a 7-6 season," she noted.

East Greenwich will be the school that the Skippers will be gunning for next season.

"We have battled with them for years, and there is a rivalry there," Vinacco said. "We came close to beating them, but not close enough."

Perhaps the most telling event of the season was that the team was honored by receiving the Division I sportsmanship award.

"This is really a credit to the girls. From the number one singles all the way to the number three doubles, they all earned, all deserved it," Vinacco concluded.

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