By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba Regional High School girls tennis squad reached the district finals last season and it only made them hungry for more in 2015.
Coach Steve Winer has his girls, led by captains Jillian Winer (junior) and Kelly Poole (senior), focused on each match and not looking ahead to the postseason, which the Chieftains have already clinched.
After a 5-0 victory over Hudson High School on Thursday, May 7 on the road, Nashoba improved to 10-1 overall and 5-1 in the conference.
They have already beaten Westborough and Shrewsbury, two teams that the Chieftains had not yet defeated in Winer’s four-year tenure at the helm.
Nashoba lost to Shrewsbury 3-2 in the district finals last year, so that victory was extra special for this motivated group of tennis players.
“Last year was a magical run, we subscribed to a motto ‘why not us?’ and just took it all the way,” Winer said. “Never thought we would, but it was just a lot of things that lined up.
“This year, looking at our team and looking at what the league looks like, I really thought we had a great shot at going deep and taking care of business,” Winer said.
The Chieftains returned the favor to Shrewsbury, 3-2, on April 29 of this season. Their only loss came on April 13 to Algonquin, but they avenged that loss with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday, May 5.
“We don’t look ahead, we take each match as it comes,” Winer said. “What we don’t want to do is get overconfident.”
Overconfidence was not an issue on Thursday, but confidence certainly was in full force as Nashoba swept Hudson (4-2 before the match).
Jillian Winer and Poole each took care of their opponents with ease in singles matches. Pia Geissler, a German foreign exchange student, added depth to the team according to Winer, and also won her singles match.
Winer also believes that he has found his most successful doubles teams, with Emma Picaro and Kyra Fasano on one team and Cayla Murphy and Keagan Castles on the other. Each doubles team also won their matches to complete the 5-0 sweep for the day.
“On paper, if everyone plays up to their potential, we should do really well in the district championship,” Winer said. “But we’ve got to do it out here.”
The Chieftains have five more matches, including a big one against Wachusett and one more each against Shrewsbury and Westborough, as they look to improve their positioning for the postseason.
Winer agreed that the team has a little bit of a target on its back after going so far last year, but he isn’t going to let it affect the strong play of his girls.
“We want to have a deep run and we just need everybody to be playing up to their potential,” Winer said. “That’s my job to try to get them to play that way.
“So far, they’re doing great.”