WLHS girls’ tennis team reaches state competition

By Kathryn Elliott - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Wed., May. 30, 2012
The WLHS team's number-one singles player, junior Cristina Szepanski, warms up for the team's final match with East Granby. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.
The WLHS team's number-one singles player, junior Cristina Szepanski, warms up for the team's final match with East Granby. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.

In his second season as head coach of the Windsor Locks High School girls’ tennis team, Jonathan LeBlanc set out seven clear goals at the Raiders’ first practice. “First, have a commitment to the team,” he said, “compete hard on every point, improve as a team and individual players, finish .500 or better, qualify for team states, do our best and have fun.”

“I would say that we achieved and exceeded all seven goals,” LeBlanc said recently. “The girls are very excited to have made team states for the first time in WLHS girls’ tennis history, especially when seven of the 10 players in the line-up were on the winless teams of 2009 and 2010,” he said.

Coming off a school-best record, 7-11 in 2011, LeBlanc and his team of 16 student-athletes set their sights on a stronger finish in 2012. Led by senior co-captains Kimberly Love (number-two singles) and Julie Della Guistina (number-four singles) the Raiders surpassed expectations, ending with a record of 12-6, making them fourth place (out of 10) in NCCC, and locking up a 17th seed ranking (of 61) in Class S of states.

According to LeBlanc, several players had standout performances, including number-one singles junior Cristina Szepanski, 13-5, All-Conference; Love, 16-2, All-Conference; number-three singles senior Carolyn Vo, 16-2, All-Conference; and Guistina, 12-6.

The road to the states was paved with several heated matches. The Raiders’ wins over Granby, Suffield and East Granby were pivotal. “Those teams are the teams directly above [Granby] and below [Suffield and East Granby] us in the NCCC league standings this year,” LeBlanc said. “We beat Granby 4-3 and 5-2 and split with Suffield 4-3/3-4 and East Granby 6-1/3-4. We were 4-2 in those six matches. Last year, we were 0-6 against those three teams,” the coach said. “A highlight of our season was beating traditional league powers at Granby and at Suffield in the same week.”

Off the courts, Windsor Locks came together in both team fundraisers and bonding events. “With a donated pair of tickets for bleacher seats at Fenway Park for Red Sox-Yankees game, the girls sold chances to win. Money raised bought team warm-up shirts [designed by the captains] and paid for granola bars/apples/Gatorade at matches,” LeBlanc said.

A full listing of state pairings and match schedules can be found at www.casciac.org.


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