Girls tennis preview: Young players key for Ridgefield

Senior Jillian O'Keefe earned All-FCIAC and All-State honors at first doubles last season. — Scott Mullin photo
Senior Jillian O'Keefe earned All-FCIAC and All-State honors at first doubles last season. — Scott Mullin photo

Due to graduation losses and injuries, the Ridgefield High girls tennis team enters the 2019 season with one certainty: Underclassmen are going to play a big role.

Head coach Adam Moskowitz expects to have six sophomores and one freshman in the starting lineup when his team meets Trinity Catholic in the opening match this afternoon in Stamford.

"As you can see, we're a young team," Moskowitz said. "The lineup we're coming out with (against Trinity) will adjust as the season develops.

"There are at least two doubles players who want to play into singles, and we're starting the season without one of our co-captains, (senior) Rachel Bodner, who should be green-lighted to play as early as our third match this week. She has been out from an off-season foot injury and will settle into the singles lineup when fully healthy. We're also missing a returning varsity sophomore in Hannah Zipkin, who will be out a few weeks with a shoulder injury."

Ridgefield graduated many of its top performers from last season, including Aurora Joblon and Morgan Held, who played first and second singles, respectively, and All-FCIAC and All-State doubles player Hillary Sherpa. Also gone is the second doubles team of Julia Driscoll and Jen Gordon.

Freshman Natalia Roseff will open the year at first singles, followed by sophomore Megan Dunphy at second singles, sophomore Tara Ford at third singles, and senior Sam Margolin at fourth singles.

Bodner, who played third singles last spring, will slot into the singles lineup once she returns.

Senior captain Jillian O'Keefe, an All-FCIAC and All-State selection last year with Sherpa, is back at first doubles and will team with junior Phoebe Seidenberg. Seidenberg played at third doubles last year.

Sophomores Isabel Voellmicke and Alexis Zacharakos are at second doubles, and classmates Kate Bucci and Julia Zangre start at third doubles. Voellmicke played with Seidenberg at third doubles a year ago, and Zacharakos competed at fourth singles.

"I'm excited for this team because it's one that is going to be fun to watch grow," Moskowitz said. "We're young, but every member of the lineup with the exception of our one freshman (Roseff) has varsity experience from last year.

"There's a great program atmosphere developing ... we had 20 freshman try out this year and while we couldn't keep all of them, we are carrying our largest JV team in a long time," Moskowitz added. "Our JV coach (Cole) is coaching double shifts to accommodate his players because he sees a great group of kids that want to learn.

"At both levels players are helping each other get better. They're not tournament players; they're team players. They bring a lot of motivation and team attitude from the other sports they play, so it's just a pleasure to coach them."

Notes: Ridgefield finished with an 11-8 record last season. The Tigers lost to Staples in the FCIAC quarterfinals and to Daniel Hand in the first round of the Class L state tournament.