Nashua’s Reynolds gets out of her tennis comfort zone
New England tennis is really all Nashua’s Claire Reynolds, the Bishop Guertin standout top player, had known before last month.
That all changed with a trip to the World Team Tennis Junior Nationals in San Diego in late July. Reynolds and Bedford’s Jason Boucher were the only New Hampshire players on a team that played out of Nashua Swim and Tennis.
The team won the New England Regional Junior Team Tennis title, downing Guilford, Conn., in the regional tourney.
And then it was off to be part of a 16-team event. The local contingent won two of five matches and finished 13th overall. But it was certainly a valuable trip.
“It was an awesome experience,” Reynolds said. “Really fun meeting people from all over the U.S., and also create great memories with my team. We were all there playing against great competition, and some of the teams we were competitive with. It was nice to represent New England.”
Most of the other team members were from northern Massachusetts.The team was coached by Jurgen Georgs of Groton, Mass., and his two sons, Kai and Jens, were on the team along with Reynolds, Boucher, Emily Hill and Linda Kong.
Reynolds, of course, is the Telegraph’s two-time Girls Player of the Year, set to be a junior this year at Guertin. She is all about tennis, and this tournament certainly was.
Here’s how each match works: Teams play two boys singles matches, two girls singles, one boys doubles, one girls doubles, and two mixed doubles. Teams played two matches a day for three days, and an individual player would have four matches in a day. In what was 90 degree heat, no less, as a heat wave was hitting San Diego at the time.
“We were all really tired, exhausted at the end of it,” Reynolds said.
The NSWT team bested Hawaii and Tennessee, but fell to Southwest, California and Pacific Wave (Oregon). Reynolds herself won two of five singles matches and three of five mixed doubles matches.
Reynolds has been familiar with most New England players, but playing against the unknown was an adjustment.
“They all had different game styles,” she said. “I know everyone around here, you play them all frm different clubs, even different states. You know them.
“But this was different. We didn’t even get a warmup, which was another weird thing. Just had to get used to (opponents’) different styles. … They all had different strategies and different game plans.”
Reynolds also had to get used to playing mixed doubles, They don’t play mixed doubles in high school competition.
“It was hard to return boys’ serves,” she said with a laugh. “They hit harder. But after awhile I could adjust.”
Reynolds found that the other girls didn’t hit perhaps as hard as she expected. “I could overpower some of the girls there, and in other matches I could have hit some better shots. Some of the girls were better than me.
“It opened my eyes to see other teams and other players. It helped me improve. I could discover some of my strengths and weaknesses, and improve.”
The toughest thing to deal with was the extreme heat. “Lots of water, lots of Gatorade,” she said.
And lots of tennis. There wasn’t a lot of time to get to know the other teams, but Hawaii gave its opponents candy and leis. New Hampshire formed a bond with the Southwest team, cheering each other on at their other respective matches.
“We only had three days to meet everyone,” Reynolds said.
Hall of Famer Billie Jean King is the founder of the WTT, but she was not at this event. However the teams got to meet some other notables, such as professional Coco Vandeweghe, plus watch a WTT match between the San Diego Aviators and Orange County Breakers.
“It was just an amazing opportunity,” Reynolds said. “The whole summer has been a lot of tennis.”