Tennis teams open season with tough competitionBy Jay Turner
It was a busy opening week for the CHS tennis teams as the boys and girls combined to play seven matches in a seven-day span.
The lone win during that stretch came in the season opener last Monday as the boys took down Attleboro 5-0 at home. The girls team also had a strong showing against the Bombardiers but lost a close one on the road 3-2. Neither team has had much luck since then, however, with the boys losing 5-0 and 4-1 to Mansfield and North Attleboro, respectively, and the girls falling 5-0 to the same two opponents and 4-1 to King Philip Regional.
In both cases, the level of competition has been a major factor as the teams they have faced are among the best in the league, sporting a combined won-loss record of 16-4. Inexperience has also likely figured into Canton’s early struggles, especially for the girls team, which sports an almost entirely new lineup after graduating several seniors last spring.
Even their most experienced player and top talent, senior captain Emma Sokolovsky, is still rounding into form after missing all of last season due to injury. Sokolovsky is still winless on the season but has looked good so far against very tough competition, according to head coach Joel Chamberlain.
The team’s other returning player with varsity experience is senior captain Julia Burkowsky, who has been slotted into the first singles position along with newcomer Jena Moyle. At second doubles, freshman Stelina Michaelidis has been one of the bright spots and already has a pair of wins with two different partners: 6-2, 6-3 over Attleboro with Kiki Karavas and 6-1, 6-1 over Mansfield with Jenna Paynter.
The other player with a win for the girls is sophomore Jamie Cree, who defeated her Attleboro opponent 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 at third singles. Anjali Mandal is still winless but has shown flashes of potential at the second singles spot.
On the boys’ side, veteran head coach Leo Nelson has considerably more varsity experience to lean on this season, led by a pair of 2016 Hockomock all-stars in Jake Wolicki and Jeevith Chandrasekar.
Wolicki seized the No. 1 singles spot and is off and running with two convincing wins, including a straight-set victory in the North Attleboro match — Canton’s lone win of the day. Both Wolicki and Chandrasekar also won against Attleboro, both 6-0, 6-0, and Nelson is hoping it’s a sign of things to come.
“I am looking forward to the season and seeing [Wolicki] and [Chandrasekar] step up their game and make their names well known in the Hockomock League,” he said.
Other returning players on the boys team include senior captain Justin Diep, now at third singles, and senior captain Dillon Anderson, the anchor at first doubles. Anderson and Aidas Jakubenas earned a win against Attleboro (6-2, 6-2), and so too did the second doubles team of Charley Molloy and Jake Troderman (6-3, 6-1). Diep also picked up a victory against the Bombardiers in his match, winning 6-1, 6-2.
“The team is getting their timing down, confidence up, and we are still playing out the doubles setup for the team,” Nelson said after the first week of action. “Finally the weather is working in our favor, so that’s a huge positive.”
This week, both Canton tennis teams were due to play Milford on Wednesday, followed by matches next Thursday, April 20, against Sharon, a traditional league powerhouse.
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