Veteran-led KCHS girls win tennis opener

CAMBRIDGE — Seniors Lizzy Watkins and Jackie Grafton won both their singles and doubles matches here on March 25, helping to serve up the four points necessary for a team victory in high school tennis.

Kent County edged host Cambridge-South Dorchester, 4-3, after splitting the four singles matches and coming out on top in two of the three doubles match.

Watkins was a winner at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles with freshman Sophie Cousineau, while Grafton was a winner at No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles with junior Ava Bower.

The lineup for last week’s season opener included junior Nina Fahrman at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles with senior Addison Cross, and Cousineau at No. 3 singles.

“Everyone played great,” first-year head coach Chanelle Copper told The Evening Enterprise in a text message.

“I’m so proud of the effort that the girls put forth,” Copper said. “Even in the losses, the ladies realized their strengths as well as their weaknesses. During practices, that’s what we’ve been working on, knowing when to use our strength and build up our weaknesses.”

Copper was just as enthusiastic about the Trojans who competed in exhibition matches: juniors Sophia Santos and A’kiya Laws, sophomore Jordana Capp and freshman Margaret Bilbrough. Junior Sarah Vujanic was sidelined with an injury. They are all playing high school tennis for the first time.

KCHS returns Cross, Grafton, Fahrman and Watkins from last year’s 3-8 team.

Watkins played at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles during the regular season.

In the Class 1A East Region I tournament, Fahrman, who was then a first-year tennis player, partnered with senior and two-time team MVP Maritza Lopez to win the region title and punch their ticket to the state tournament.

Kent County has a roster of 11 girls with varied experience.

Copper described them as “awesome,” and said “they come out every day ready and eager to learn.”

Copper was a volleyball and basketball player at KCHS, and has been an assistant coach with both programs at her alma mater.

“This is my first year coaching tennis, and I love it!” she told The Evening Enterprise.

She was a devoted “tennis mom” when daughter Crishelle (Class of 2014) played.

Now Crishelle Copper is a member of the coaching staff that includes KCHS tennis alumnus Matthew Cousineau, whose twin son and daughter are on the team, and veteran assistants Michael Wang, Marti Stuedle, KC Holland and David Quinn.

“The coaching staff is amazing. We all work really hard to teach and support the girls,” Chanelle Cooper said,

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Tyray Johnson returns for a second year as head coach of the boys team after being an assistant before that.

Also back from the 4-7 campaign of 2023 are seniors Vagelis Ananiadis, John Hinton, Aaron Saunders and Jermaine Keeling; juniors Robert Hague, Teo O’Brien and Aryan Sharma (who will graduate in June, a year early); and sophomore Chris Gonzalez.

Ananiadis’ MVP season of 2023 included Kent’s first region championship in singles since 2018.

New players this year are freshmen Sebastien Cousineau, Bjorn Birkmire and Ben Hinton, the youngest of three brothers who all have played tennis for KCHS.

The first match for Kent’s boys is Friday, April 5 at home against Colonel Richardson.

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