Happy feet in tennis is the truth!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-GLuydiMe4 Good evening, everyone. Let me first take a moment to thank some people who helped us have a happy season. On behalf of the team, I want to thank the athletic department for their support this spring. We also appreciated a good deal of help from Sue and the athletic trainer’s staff. Most importantly, we want to thank Mr. Patterson’s help with the tournament that included his early dawn shift down at the courts until the last match ended at 6pm. A shout out to Chris Williams and the other maintenance staff members who made the courts clean all season—especially for last Saturday’s tournament. Big shout out goes to Coach Sam whose dedication and enthusiasm made Saturday a great day for tennis.

For me, the 2014 season will go down as a happy season. Our two senior captains, Neelam and Emily, helped make many things on our team turn out harmoniously. When I look back on the high points of the season, many moments take shape in my mind, and I find that Emily and Neelam’s support and leadership were the ties that bound us together. We were also the best looking team on campus with sharp uniforms and our throw back, old school style sweatshirts.

As a coach, I often reflect about the best way to convey important information about the key fundamentals of my sport, and one of the most important rudiments of tennis is FOOTWORK. I personally think that success in tennis begins and ends with footwork. I also feel that instruction and match experience are the other two legs of that important triangle, but to quote New Jersey poet William Carlos Williams, so much depends on footwork. Now it might seem crazy about what I am about to say, but every day the sun was out on the courts, I would tell the girls to have happy feet and have fun in their match. As you can imagine, this idea caught on…it was kind of contagious, like a room without a roof. We began to feel that happiness and happy feet are the truth.

It was fun to see Emma Landis develop her happy feet at the net; it helped her score a good win with her doubles partner, Annabelle Pape, when they won handedly against rivals Wilbraham and Munson. Annabelle also joined the ranks of the tournament with a player from Northfield Mount Hermon and was bouncing around on happy feet, playing great doubles against very competitive opponents.

Alex Fabricant’s happy feet moments were when she played her best level of tennis at the tournament this weekend, and she responded to challenging shots from three other number one singles players in her competitive flight. Along with the effort she exhibited during our senior day match against Northfield Mount Hermon, it was fun to see Alex execute some consistent play during her challenging draw in the tournament. We wish her the best next year at Lewis and Clark.

Caroline had happy feet throughout the whole season as she aimed to improve several parts of her game and put extra effort into mastering several types of serves. Towards the end of the season, she began to take advantage of opportunities to play singles and doubles. Most impressively, Caroline won a singles match during the tournament; we look forward to Caroline’s contributions next year. Jessie and Caitlin worked well all season and were an intimidating doubles team. They also worked hard to turn their happy feet into poaching feet. They had two gears all year. They either plowed through their opponents, or if they encountered a very skilled, tactical team, would fit like happy hell to come back and win a second set. We’re now looking forward to Caitlin and Jessie sharing their experience even more next year as they will be great assets in singles and doubles for the team.

Andrea had the best tennis brain to self assess her own happy feet. There were times when I noticed that she lacked happy feet in the first set and was thinking of the best way to bring the subject up, and she would come up to me and sign, “Oh, I am moving my feet like a grandmother.” Then she would go back and win the second and third set; remarkably, Andrea had the most three set wins this season. We will miss her next year, and look forward to her inviting us over to Spain to hit with Rafael Nadal. We will also miss Rebecca next season; she was a good team player who liked to work hard in practice. Rebecca also earned many wins for us high up in the ladder, and one of her happy feet moment was in the second round of the tournament when she was firing off amazing inside-out forehand winners. After playing three solid first round matches, she opened up her game and happy feet and overpowered her opponent 6-2, 6-2.

On to our two awards:

For the last three years, this player was the happy glue on our team; she always sacrificed her own interests for those of her teammates. Three and two seasons ago, she arranged great senior day celebrations; I think this year’s senior day success stemmed from her positive role modeling. When I was asking her about her contributions to the tournament last week, her constant reframe was “I will play wherever is best for the team.” This year’s coaches award goes to Neelam Mahtani.

This player has been a constant presence in the singles line-up for four years. She built up an amazing winning record over this time, and her most amazing contribution to the team over these years was her ability to wear down her opponents with her work ethic. She also transferred this passion for hitting groundstrokes into practice and provided so many great workouts to her teammates over the years. Along with Neelam, we will miss her next year. Please congratulate Emily for receiving the Joyce Wilson Award.

Happy feet in tennis is the truth! I want to thank all the players for a great season. May they all have a great summer filled with tennis!

About Bill Sullivan

I am an English teacher working with great students at Suffield Academy. I also teach seniors in various project-based learning environments. Some of the #PBL topics included global issues, such as Pandemics, Climate Change, and Water; more recently I have asked students to research and identify topics important to our school community and their generation. We curate these topics with a #StudentCenteredPBL. For the past eleven years, I also created a driving question for a class to research a local history mystery and present their findings in a community program partnering with our local historical society. These topics encompass researching the lives of enslaved individuals who were contributors to the foundation of our community.
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