Unionville tennis team's season off to a strong start
● By Steven Hoffman
Year in and year out, the Unionville Indians tennis team ranks among the elite in the highly competitive Ches-Mont League. Unionville is certainly off to a strong start in 2016, improving its record to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in league play with a victory over the Oxford tennis team on Sept. 8.
The Unionville squad is deep and talented. Head coach Janet Johnston has the opportunity to pencil in Sophie Wilks at first singles. Wilks captured the Ches-Mont League American Division Singles Championship last year as a junior, and she is once again one of the top players in the area. She's also a senior captain on the Unionville team this season.
“She's been doing a great job of leading the team,” Johnston explained, noting that Unionville's toughest part of the schedule begins within the next two weeks. That will sharpen Wilks' play as she prepares for the league and district singles championships next month.
Eliza Wilks, Sophie's sister, is a sophomore standout on the Unionville squad. Against Oxford, Eliza was moved up to first singles to face Oxford's top player, Paige Troutman.
Johnston said that she likes to move her players up, whenever possible, to give them the experience of playing against the higher level of competition. Eliza has been moved up to first singles a few times this season and has turned in strong performances.
“She's been playing really well this season,” Johnston explained. “We like to give her that opportunity to move up to first singles as often as we can.”
The Unionville coach said that she sees some similarities between how Sophie and Eliza play. “They both hit a hard ball, and they play with more of an aggressive style, so I do see similarities,” she said.
Eliza utilized her diverse game to earn a 6-1, 6-0 win over Troutman. Eliza managed a service break to start the match, but Troutman came right back and returned the favor. Eliza's solid return game helped her take a 2-1 lead in the first set. A few minutes later, a clean forehand winner put Eliza up 4-1.
Troutman also demonstrated a versatile game, and made her opponent work hard for the points.
Oxford coach John Green said that Troutman, a senior, has been a three-year varsity player for the squad. For the last two seasons, she usually plays at first singles for Oxford, and does a good job with the difficult assignment.
“The Ches-Mont League is tough, especially at first singles,” Green explained. He added that Troutman has worked hard to improve her serve and her footwork, which has allowed her to stay in on a lot of points. She also has the right mental approach to the game.
“Her attitude,” Green said, “has always been awesome.”
In addition to the win by Wilks, Unionville's Arushi Sahay won at second singles over Abby Boohar, and Unionville's Emily Poprick won at third singles over Kaitlin Bell. Unionville also won the four doubles contests.