The team’s roster looks very different than last season, with changes at 11 of 12 line-up spots.
MASON, Mich. – Coming off a season in which the girls’ varsity tennis team was league champs and state qualifiers, Mason High School is looking to keep last year’s success going.
Except there will be a big difference between the 2018 team and this year’s roster: 11 of the 12 spots will have different players. Movement from JV to varsity, girls switching line-up spots, and losing five seniors to graduation is causing Coach Jim D’Angelo to create a new team dynamic.
D’Angelo, who has been leading the Mason girls varsity tennis team for 12 years, said every year he strives for the best and expects the most out of his players.
“We always try to have the same goal every year: to win the league and to get out of regionals and make it to the state finals. This year it’s no different, however, this year what is different is we only have one player coming back playing in the same position.” D’Angelo said.
The team is going through a change of strategy and positioning to work around a large group of new players.
“We lost five seniors that were really good seniors from last year’s team. We had a couple people on the team last year that for one reason or another, are trying to hold down two jobs and go to school and get money for college, decided not to play, and they would’ve been seniors this year.” D’Angelo said.
Injuries are also a factor, with two players working throw elbow injuries.
There are 16 players on the active roster for the varsity tennis team, but there could’ve been 8 or 9 more players on the team if not for financial or injury-related reasons.
The team is still closely-knit, even with all of the changes. Senior captain Vy Nguyen said has enjoyed her time on the team and is thankful for her teammates.
“I think it’s a really great experience, the team we are very close with each other, we can rely on each other, and I’m glad I came out for varsity,” Nguyen said.
Everyone was eager to start out the new season, as spring break was right around the corner.
The team started the season on March 23 at Mason High School. It was a quad match against East Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Portage Central. All three teams qualified for Division 2 states last year, so they knew that they were in for a tough test.
Mason came up short, finishing third place. East Grand Rapids was first with 15 points, Portage Central second with 8, Mason had 6 points and East Lansing was fourth with 3.
Despite the results, D’Angelo is happy considering the competition his team faced.
“We are starting out with a challenging day, including going against EGR which is considered the favorite, but my attitude is you get better by playing better people,” D’Angelo said.
D’Angelo knows this was a tough start to the season, but is using this tough schedule to get them better for the end of the season run.
“We are playing top quality competition, but in the long run that’s going to help us out by the end of the year.” D’Angelo said.