Each area girls tennis team increased its win total by at least one from last year, and this season’s All-Press Girls Tennis Team, the ninth annual, is made up of six of the best from the three Bristol teams.
St. Paul finished its regular season with just two losses before falling in the final of the NVL tournament and getting stunned in the first round of the Class S tourney. Between the three Falcons on our All-Press team, there is only one individual regular season loss.
Leading the way for St. Paul was No. 1 singles player Natasha Kempes. She posted a 10-0 record in the regular season, earning her the No. 1 ranking in the NVL before she fell in the finals of the conference’s singles tournament. The senior’s performance earned her all-conference honors, as well as a repeat appearance on the All-Press team.
Behind Kempes for much of the season was No. 2 singles player Victoria Kilbourne. In the second spot, she won all 10 of her matches, and in the five matches Kempes missed, Kilbourne stepped into the top spot and went 5-0. She is another repeat selection to the All-Press team and also received all-conference honors this season. With Kempes graduating, Kilbourne is going to be expected to shoulder the top-spot load next season.
Kempes and Kilbourne got the recognition for their undefeated records, but No. 3 singles player Katie Pauloz also had a stellar season for St. Paul. The junior won each of her matches in the third spot and only lost once when she was asked to play at No. 2. Pauloz is a quiet person but is fiercely competitive on the court and works hard in practice, which is part of why she will be one of the Falcons’ co-captains next season.
Bristol Central turned two of its losses from a year ago into wins this season and made the state tournament with an 8-6 record. The Rams’ two representatives on this year’s All-Press team were a major reason why.
Earning the nickname Bulldog during her Central career, senior Ava Gorneault led the Rams at No. 1 singles. This season was her fourth as a varsity starter and her second stint as captain. She qualified for the individual state tournament and also earned all-conference honors. With her on the team, Bristol Central reached the postseason three out of four years.
“Ava is a throwback,” Central coach Rick Block said. “She battles like a gladiator and has the heart of a warrior. It’s easy to coach Bulldog; she has a desire to always improve.”
Gorneault is joined on the All-Press team by another four-year starter from Bristol Central, Emily McAllister. She shared captain duties with Gorneault, earning the title unanimously. She qualified for the individual state tournament in singles this season. McAllister was also named all-conference in 2017.
“Emily is a fierce competitor who always puts the team first and she may possibly be the nicest human being I’ve ever met,” Block said. “Both girls are proof that work ethic and commitment, mixed with desire, lead to great accomplishments. It’s been an honor to coach Bulldog and Emily.”
Bristol Eastern improved to .500 after a 7-11 season last year, and the Lancers’ lone representative on this year’s All-Press team had a lot to do with that.
Hannah Langlais was Eastern’s No. 1 singles player this season and last and was a captain. She was strong atop the Lancers lineup all season and earned all-conference honors. She also qualified for the individual state tournament in singles.
“Hannah has worked hard during her practices and has shown determination and perseverance in each and every match she played,” Bristol Eastern coach Barbara Lessard said. “As a co-captain, Hannah exhibited leadership and camaraderie among her teammates. She is a selfless individual who always put her team ahead of herself.”