Ocean City Today

WP tennis teams hope for continued success

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Mar 15, 2018
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli “Being on the team three years has definitely given me a lot of experience and I think that will help me step up and lead,” said Worcester Prep junior Dominic Anthony. “The group definitely looks great. A lot of these guys are ready to step up and take charge.”

(March 16, 2018) The Worcester Prep girls’ and boys’ tennis teams had successful 2017 seasons and both hope to repeat their accomplishments.

The Lady Mallards went undefeated, 13-0, last year. They also won the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference team championship. As a freshman, Annika Larsen captured the ESIAC singles title and was named female Player of the Year. Mesa Cammack and Saylor McGuiness, as freshmen, earned the ESIAC doubles title last year.

Larsen played No. 1 singles last season and will return to that spot this year as a sophomore.

“It’s really exciting. I love tennis season,” she said. “We want to win the ESIAC again. We were also undefeated last year, so we’d love to do that this year.”

Also returning is sophomore Abi Plylar and senior captain Anchita Batra, who will play second and third singles, respectively.

“I’m excited for Annika, Anchita and Abi. They were so strong last year and they’ve gotten better,” Prep Coach Cyndee Hudson said.

Larsen, Batra, Cammack and McGuiness earned All-Conference honors for advancing to the ESIAC finals last season.

“We’re playing some tougher teams this year, so we just want to win all our matches like we did last year,” Plylar said. “I think we’re looking very good, especially the girls who played last year. They’re a lot better.”

“Our strength is in experience because we have the No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles team in the league returning,” Hudson said. “Our No. 1, 2 and 3 are back. No. 4 is a returning senior and No. 5 is a new freshman. I’m excited about our strengths at singles.”

Senior captain Hope Sens will compete in the fourth-singles position and freshman Summer Walker will take the court at fifth singles.

Cammack and McGuiness, now sophomores, will team up for first doubles.

Sophomores Kennedy Humes and Korina Gjikuria will fill the second doubles spot.

Hudson, now in her 18th season coaching, has 16 girls on her roster. Ten competed last year.

“We practice well together and help each other and give each other pointers,” Larsen said.

Hudson described the Lady Mallards as young and eager, but full of experience.

“They can handle their own out there,” Hudson said. “The starters are quite good. The freshmen and sophomores are learning. So far I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen.”

The girls have set high goals, Hudson said. The schedule includes some stronger opponents this year, so the Mallards can face a higher level of competition.

“We want to be competitive in every match,” she said. “We’re all looking forward to the start and once we get started, it will be fast and furious with two-to-three matches per week.”

The Worcester Prep boys’ team went 9-2 last year and the Mallards captured their third consecutive ESIAC team title. Colin Miller and Brenner Maull, as a sophomore and junior, respectively, took home the conference doubles championship in 2017.

They earned All-Conference honors along with then sophomore, Will Todd.

The trio has returned to compete this season, along with senior Brendan Miller and junior Dominic Anthony.

“Having three years of tennis, I think I’ll be able to come back and show some leadership this year and hopefully carry our team to an undefeated season,” Todd said. The junior has been on the team for three years. He played in the second singles spot in 2017.

“We’re definitely a lot stronger this year and I think we have a great chance at an undefeated season,” he added.

Anthony has also been on the team for three seasons. He competed at No. 3 singes last year.

“Being on the team three years has definitely given me a lot of experience and I think that will help me step up and lead,” Anthony said. “The group definitely looks great. A lot of these guys are ready to step up and take charge.”

“Those five are the faces of the team, so to speak. Any one of them could end up being No. 1 [singles],” said Coach Terry Underkoffler. “They’re that close and they’re that good. Our singles guys are a strong group of competitive athletes with a lot of maturity.”

Miller and Maull are the only seniors on the team and have been named captains.

Also returning are juniors Graham Hammond, Cameron Hill and Matt Durkin who will compete in doubles action along with newcomers, freshmen Ryan Brafman and Ben Brandt and sophomore Eli Prushansky, a transfer from Salisbury.

“It’s so competitive. In the next two weeks we’ll be setting the lineup,” Underkoffler said. “Compared to this time last year, we’re way ahead. We’re better.”

Thirty-one boys tried out for the team this year – the largest group Underkoffler has had since he started coaching the team four years ago.

“When they talk to the other kids about playing they say it’s fun,” he said. “Tennis is a sport that’s becoming more attractive to kids.”

Sixteen made the team and 13 of them are varsity veterans. The squad is deep with talent.

“Day-to-day competition is going to be fierce,” he said. “I think they’re upbeat because they see the depth, the quality of our team this season and how it’s grown over the last few years.

“When I first took over we had good players – the top four were very good and then it dropped off,” he continued. “Every year our depth is better and our quality has been better.”

Underkoffler said he and Assistant Coach Tim McMullen are ecstatic with the group they have this season.

“It’s the best group of tennis players I’ve ever had. I’ve had good players, but never had the depth we have now,” he said. “The kids want to win every match. They are that focused and they want to do really well at the ESIAC tournament. We think we have the depth and quality of players to do that.”

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