BRISTOL - The return of spring sports in 2021 put high school tennis teams on the court for the first time in two years and getting the chance to play again was cherished by everyone involved.
The excitement of getting to play yielded strong seasons for many local girls tennis players, four of whom earned spots on this year’s all-Bristol Press team. They are Bristol Central’s Samantha Chapman, Alexa Rinaldi and Brooke Rinaldi and Bristol Eastern’s Brooke Treannie.
After a year of both teams playing in Class M, these four led the way as the schools stepped back up into Class L.
Bristol Central girls qualified for the state tournament this year for the first time since 2017, largely on the backs of Chapman, Alexa Rinaldi and Brooke Rinaldi.
Chapman led the way for the Rams’ success this season with 10 wins in 15 singles matches this season. The all-CCC selection proved repeatedly difficult to beat as three of her losses came in closely contested third-set tiebreakers.
“She was our MVP this season,” coach Matt Wayton said. “Sam was one of the most consistent players on the team and always gave a good effort. Sam has the kind of game that can frustrate and wear down her opponents as she can rally for a long time with limited mistakes. Sam was a big part of why this team was able to make the state tournament this year.”
The Rinaldi sisters earned all-conference honors holding the lead doubles spot for the Rams last season and posted an 8-7 record, which left them one win short of qualifying for the state open. A competitive duo throughout the whole season, their biggest win came when the team needed it most.
Facing rival Bristol Eastern in its final match of the season, Alexa and Brooke erased a deficit late in the first set and went on to win in a tiebreaker. Central then won the match 4-3, which qualified it for the state tournament.
“Alexa and Brooke worked really well together on the court and had great communication,” Wayton said. “Alexa & Brooke pulled out a lot of close wins and improved greatly as the season progressed. They won a very tight tiebreaker in the first set of our last match of our season [against] Bristol Eastern where they were down in the set and came back, winning that tiebreaker gave them that momentum to close out the match and really propelled the team in a close 4-3 that sent us to the state tournament. We had to beat Eastern to make states so that match was crucial for us. They never missed one practice and showed great dedication to the team in their first year playing varsity. I will be looking for them to take a bigger leadership role on the team going forward.”
Leading Eastern on the court this year was Treannie, an all-CCC honoree who will be the captain for the Lancers in 2022. She posted an 8-7 record as a junior, splitting time between playing first and second singles. She won three of her four first singles matches while going 5- 6 from the second position.
“Brooke demonstrates team leadership and has developed great camaraderie with all her teammates,” head coach Barbara Lessard said. “She will be a key player for this coming 2022 season.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.