Juniors Grooms and Stephens leading the way
Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
The Bartlett High School girls’ tennis team has been one of the biggest sports stories in the area this spring. With an outstanding bunch of student athletes and a great coach in Chris Nasis, they continue to perform spectacularly on and off the court.
Rarely do you hear a high school coach put so much emphasis on academics as Head Coach Nasis does. It’s refreshing to hear him speak.
“I think the most important thing is what they do in the classroom. You know what kind of season you are going to have when you see the grades. It’s true; I have believed that for a long time,” said Nasis. “ I tell them all the time that you are only as good as your last match.” He could have easily said—you are only good as your last test.
If there were any truth at all to the theory that tennis players are smarter, then the Bartlett girls would be the perfect example. They certainly are a ‘heady’ bunch.
The team’s number one and number three singles players, juniors Jen Grooms and Amanda Stephens, have played together since the seventh grade and have been friends since they were in the third grade. Both are having outstanding seasons so far.
“We always talk about games before and after and how we can beat our opponents, said Stephens in regards to her relationship with Grooms, who were doubles partners as freshmen. “We talk about how we could improve our game”.
Stephens, who is having a great season, attends classes at Worcester Math and Science. (She is allowed to play tennis at Bartlett since she lives in Webster and started her career while at Bartlett.)
“She is dedicated and works really hard—very quiet but takes care of business on the court,” said Nasis. “She is very assertive and has outstanding technique and is very easy to coach. (Assistant)Coach Tom Namonski really works with her one on one. He has helped out the girls and it has made a big difference with Amanda. She is like a sponge she really absorbs everything.”
Grooms is also an admirer of her teammate’s skills, “She is amazing—she has a really great cross court and every time she hits it, it’s low—just barely going over the net . It’s almost impossible to return sometimes.”
Stephens returned the compliment and threw in a little jab for fun. “She (Grooms) is really good. She has become better at hitting slices and she returns the ball most of time.”
Nasis was also quick to praise Grooms. “Jen is an outstanding leader. She is the typical student that you want playing for our team: outstanding in the classroom and she is a real good thinker on the court.”
“I think we have a really bright future as a team,” said Grooms. “If we keep it together and stay strong mentally, we are really going to succeed.”
Nasis, also an assistant football coach at Worcester State College, put the Bartlett girls through a grueling training camp, but it was that training that made a difference for Grooms. “I love playing for Coach Nasis. We have better stamina this year compared to other teams. We are always ready to play. Even if don’t win another match, we are going to play our hardest every match and have a lot of success together.”
Stephens agrees, “I think we are doing really well. If we continue to play this way we can make districts.”
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- Tuesday, 01 May 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports