Challenges pg 9 4-5-18

Woodstock Academy girls’ tennis coach Ann Rathbone was just about to talk about the No. 1 singles player on her team when Clara Siegmund walked into her office.
Rathbone didn’t skip a beat.
“She’s fighting for (the No. 1 spot) in practice daily. She knows. People are coming after her and I’ve encouraged them to go after her,” Rathbone said.
There is a reason for it.
Siegmund, a senior, will be challenged throughout the year by the likes of players from Stonington, Waterford and East Lyme and had best get used to the competition.
“If she gets complacent, it’s going to be hard. She knows who she has to play against. She has tough matches out there and has goals to play at the next level so I have the other players on our team going after her,” Rathbone said.
Her teammates haven’t done so in vain.
“She has been knocked around a couple of times and has not liked the feeling. She’s not used to it. But it will make her and everyone else, better players in the long run,” Rathbone said.
Fellow senior Ellie Chervenkova, and juniors Mari Ruggeri and Morgan Bassett are the leaders for the singles spots alongside Siegmund.
“The single spots are hotly contested right now, it’s a coach’s dream. Any of probably six players could play singles and they are pushing each other, all intent on being No.1,” Rathbone said. “Clara has worked hard to get to get to this spot. She has been one of our best players since her freshman year so we want her to go out with a bang, but she’s going to have to work hard.”
There is also depth in the program, something Rathbone plans to take advantage of.
“There are others waiting in the wings and I’m going to try to get them some experience this year to get them ready for next year, but they have to earn it,” Rathbone said.
Other returners for the Centaurs include senior Samantha Sheldon;  juniors Mackenzie Eaton, Codi Staveski, Emmalee Binette and Lauren Semancik and sophomores Rachel Holden, Emma Durand, Caitlin Sroczenski, and Sophia Rakovan.
The Centaurs, overall, had one of their biggest turnouts ever.
“We had so many kids,” Rathbone said.
More than 55 girls tried out for the program and Rathbone had to make some cuts.
“Does that help build success for the program? Yes. I think it’s a successful program because they all want to play. I hate to cut anyone,” Rathbone said.   
Rathbone did have one advantage.
Despite what could only be classified as a wintry first week of spring, the Centaurs were able to hold tryouts and practices at the Pomfret School. The Centaurs finished 13-7 overall last year and, with a 2-3 record, were third in Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference behind Stonington (6-0) and Waterford (3-3).
“Will we be able to beat Stonington this year? That’s always the goal. That would be a huge accomplishment and we will strive for that. We will be good against everyone else in the ECC, but Stonington is the date you circle,” Rathbone said.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director

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