FRYEBURG — The 2021 Fryeburg Academy girls’ tennis team is ready to make some noise this spring. After being sidelined in 2002 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raiders return to the court in 2021 eager to make up for lost time and have a new coach with longtime ties to the program just as passionate.
“The Raiders have a passion and an inner belief that make them champions,” said Coach Chris Chaffee, who is thrilled to be back on the sidelines at FA.
“This is my 13th year as the girls' coach and I am humbled to be able to coach the girls this season,” Chaffee said on Saturday. “I missed it for sure last year and I always look forward to meeting and helping every player the best that I can.”
Preseason started last week, and Chaffee likes what he’s seen thus far from his squad.
“They are fueled with a drive and a willingness to improve each day,” he said, adding, “A foundation based on a strong mindset is the building block that makes this group of girls a pleasure to teach. I am thrilled to be their coach.”
Returning Raiders include juniors Alana Cini, Leah Charles, Naomi Harper and Roze Schenstrom.
Senior Marra McMillian, who will be playing singles this year, for Fryeburg, is also out for the team.
“Marra has got some game and talent,” said Chaffee. “She can strike a good ball and is also lefty which is big advantage to have. She has some playing experience that will help lead the team.”
Junior Daryna Serediuk is a newcomer to the team this year and, according to Chaffee, “will add some important depth” to the team.
“Daryna is from Ukraine and is athletic,” he said. “She has the motivation to do well and to win. Daryna's topspin forehand is her biggest weapon.”
Harper, according to Chaffee, “has a gracious but competitive nature. Her speed and consistency add to the natural court coverage ability.”
Cini and Schenstrom are expected to be a factor in doubles.
“Alana and Roze have the right energy to play well,” Chaffee said. “Alana can control the ball pretty well. So, that combined with Roze's volleys and both of their court awareness, they will work well together.”
He added: “Our other doubles players are newcomers to the roster. Sophomore Chloe Sartory and sophomore Ainsley Foster are the biggest and pleasant surprises this year. Chloe is a field hockey player and possesses natural hand-eye coordination and maneuverability. With the help of Ainsley’s focus and consistency they will perform well on the court.”
Chaffee said Charles and fellow junior Riley Miller are also progressing well.
“Their skills are increasing and they are gaining confidence day in day out,” he said. “Every player on the team amazes me in terms of their attitude and personality. They are extremely supportive, gracious and are ready and capable to achieve the goal of getting the very best out of themselves. That effort will produce results and those are qualities you want to have in life.”
Chaffee is happy to have good numbers out for the team.
“The girls had a big turnout for this season, which is awesome to see,” he said. “We have players that have never played before, we have players that have played a few times and we have a couple that have played seasonally. All the different levels of players and interest are very positive to see. It means a lot for the growth of the sport of tennis at the Academy and in the community. As a coach I want them to try to soak up as much knowledge and information they can, but also have fun doing it. There is no pressure on them this year. I know they will make me proud. Being on the court and practicing with the players we have this year brings a lot of happiness and joy as a coach. The girls have champion-like attitudes but also show tremendous sportsmanship to one another.”
Chaffee talked about team goals for the season.
“One of the main goals this year as a coach and for the team is improvement and progress,” he said. “We have just started practicing and every player on the team has gotten better each day. They are having fun and they want to come to practice every day, with a desire to play. They are determined to continue to learn new skills. As a coach, you can’t ask much more than that. They give so much effort and have so much character. They all have the heart and are willing to put in the work. With this drive, the results will come.
Chaffee added: “The girls will face adversity this year because some schools will have players with more experience but the Raiders can adapt because I know they each have the courage to so. We might not win every match but that is OK because as tennis players they are going to keep on competing. They are going to give everything they’ve got.
“Being a tennis player is a journey. I believe in these kids and know they will try and strive. They are hopeful, eager and optimistic — that’s what makes them all winners.”
The Raiders are scheduled to host Mountain Valley on Thursday at 4 p.m. The courts are on Howe Street, across the street from the football field and the on the left where the gate is.
“Our hope as a team is to grow and to hang tough,” said Chaffee. “We aren't going to yield. We are going to keep going. We are going to push and continue to move forward. With that mindset, it will take them beyond winning and display perseverance and resilience.”