Season Preview: Girls Tennis Hoping To Ride Depth To Promising Season

David Creed •

Luke Thornewill coaching
Nantucket girls tennis head coach Luke Thornewill giving instruction during a preseason practice. Photo by Chris Tran

As Nantucket girls tennis head coach Luke Thornewill heads into his fourth season leading the varsity program, he feels plenty of excitement as he looks up and down the lineup at the quality depth and multi-sport athletes on his squad that should give him plenty of options this spring when putting together his daily lineups.

"Our depth into the doubles this year is going to be far greater than it ever has been,” Thornewill said. “We have six very strong players to fill the seven spots right off the bat just in terms of superior skill levels we've never had before. I think it's going to show itself.”

The seven spots include three singles players and two doubles teams. The Whalers had to replace several experienced players last season such as Abbey Boylan, Emily Dussault, Haley Ray, and Sarah Hanlon – leaving the 2023 squad young and talented, but inexperienced.

This year Nantucket will be more experienced with seniors Joan Harris, Lauren Cutone, and Hannah Gerardi all returning for their second go-arounds as singles players. Sophomore Fiona Keltz, who alternated with Gerardi as the #3 single last spring, will also be returning.

Harris will likely begin the season as the Whaler’s top singles player, but Thornewill praised #2 single Cutone for her offseason improvements as well.

"This is Joan's second year in singles and this year looks faster and stronger,” Thornewill said. “Her footwork is much better. We had our first round of challenge matches Monday and her and Lauren duked it out even in the heavy winds. Joan is just a natural athlete and she's so mentally tough. We are looking forward to her being one of the leaders.

“But our top five or six are extremely close,” Thornewill continued. “Lauren is right on Joan's heels. Lauren's gained some strength I think this last year and I think we're going to see great things from her. Her groundstrokes are looking really solid and strong like Joans. They were just pounding it back and forth to each other from the back court on Monday.”

Thornewill said Gerardi looks like she has taken her game to another level and looks poised to step up again this season in similar fashion to last year when Keltz got injured.

Freshman Lily Chibnik has caught Thornewill’s eyes as well and believes she is right up there with the three seniors and Keltz in terms of ability despite her young age.

Senior Chloe Marrero will help anchor the Whaler’s doubles teams and Thornewill praised not only her abilities as an athlete but also her leadership skills – which earned her the honor of being one of the team’s four captains along with Harris, Cutone, and Gerardi.

"They were selected because each of them brings something special to the team that the others don't, and that's why we went with four of them,” Thornewill said. “They're all highly respected.”

The Whalers first match is scheduled for Saturday, March 30 at 1 p.m. against Martha’s Vineyard – a notoriously strong and successful program that finished with a 10-8 record last year. You can view the full Whaler girls tennis schedule by clicking here.

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