by Andrew Garda

The Montclair High School girls tennis team is a bit of a senior-heavy group.

Coach Dawn DeMayo says she expects three of the four to fill out the top single spots with the fourth senior taking one of the lead doubles groups.

That experience is key, she said, and three of her seniors have plenty of it.

“I’m excited. My number one is returning, senior Lily Becker. She played [first singles] last year, and she’ll play the one again. Amari Weddle will probably play the three. She’s played some three and some doubles, so she has varsity experience. Charlotte [Glessner-Fischer] is a senior and she played varsity last year, playing doubles.”

Lily Feinberg rounds out DeMayo's top seniors.

After the seniors though, the rest of the team has no varsity experience.

“I mean that’s going to be a big jump,” DeMayo said, “because in girls tennis, especially in Essex County, there’s a big jump to the high school level.”

With less experience among the doubles players, DeMayo needs the seniors to lead the way and luckily, she said, they are all able.

“[The seniors] are hard workers. Two of them have played varsity since sophomore year and the other two played a little bit of varsity during their sophomore year, but played all their junior year.”

For the girls team, doubles play is a stepping stone that teaches each player to work with others. The junior varsity squad is only doubles players, which makes the transition to varsity — where underclassmen usually stay playing doubles their first year or so — a lot easier.

That’s pretty much how it went for Becker, the incumbent No. 1 singles player.

She started out in doubles as a freshman, but jumped right up to varsity doubles her sophomore year. Then she made the rather big leap to first single in her junior year.

Now she intends to take what he learned in her junior year to improve her game this year. Before her junior year, Becker had never played singles at a high school level before. With a year under her belt, she knows she can improve her play.

“[Last year] I began to build the mentality [that] if you’re playing these top quality girls, it’s not about winning but doing the best you can,” Becker said between practice sets on Tuesday. “So I think this year I will have a better chance because the pressure is off. This season I feel a lot more confident and think I’ll be able to win a lot more matches.”

Becker knows she has to help the younger players along as well and she’s ready to give them a hand in adjusting to doubles play at the varsity level. She says that includes paying attention to all the other players on your team and learning what they do well so no matter who you are matched with, you can adjust. She also suggests bonding with your partner off the court.

“Just getting to know your partner on a personal level makes the game more enjoyable and you become more effective and work in unison.”

Though the younger players are inexperienced, Becker feels they will do well this season.

“I think the underclassmen will do a good job, because they all played junior varsity, which is all doubles. So they already know the game,” Becker said. “It’s just getting familiar with your partner. You have to build a relationship both technical and personal first.”