Shaker Girls Tennis Team Wraps Up Their 2021-22 Season With a Slam


Hannah Yu, Social Media Manager

Walk towards Shaker High School’s tennis courts, and you’ll spot the girls varsity team– a bubbly yet fiercely competitive group of girls ready to seal another Shaker win. They hit overheads with precise coordination, serve aces for days, and slam fast forehands and backhands onto the courts. When you join their practices, you listen in on their playful jokes, watch as they dodge wind-manipulated serves, and smile as they passionately cheer on their last teammate in a grueling tiebreaker. There’s no doubt that these are a high-spirited, determined group of athletes.

Beginning in August, the girls attended practices weekly, and played matches in over eighty degree weather. Coach Cuva, who has worked as the girl’s tennis coach for over twenty years, crafted a solid lineup from these practices. 

The girl’s tennis season lasted three months, from late August to late October, and was packed with Suburban Council matches. The girls played away matches at Saratoga, Ballston Spa, and Columbia, as well as hosting many other schools such as tough competitors, Niskayuna and Shenendehowa, to play on Shaker’s home courts. The Shaker Girls Varsity tennis team successfully ended their season with a stunning twelve wins and two losses, and placed third in the Suburban Council Championships after losing to Saratoga 3-6.

This year, the varsity team looked quite different, as many prized players had graduated and are pursuing their interests at college. With this in mind, Coach Cuva was uncertain about how the season was going to play out. “We have thirteen available spots. And this year, nine out of those thirteen spots were JV girls moving up and playing on a Varsity team for the first time,” he says. “With so many newcomers, and all the odds stacked against them, the girls have definitely impressed me, and have outdone themselves this season.”

Within this whirlwind pandemic-filled year, many players have also gained meaningful experiences and lessons from being on the tennis team. Regan Doherty, a junior who has been playing on the Shaker tennis team for five years, weighs in on how tennis has positively affected her life.

“Specifically this year, tennis has taught me confidence. Me and my doubles partner Harini, between every point, would cheer each other on with: ‘We got this! We have confidence! We’re phenomenal! We’re amazing!’ Learning confidence and expecting to do your best no matter what people put at you is really important.” 

Doherty said that tennis has allowed her to live past her mistakes, and keep driving forward, no matter the circumstance, and focus on the main purpose. And while being on the tennis team has improved her physical skills, there’s been a lot of growth outside of the courts as well.

“Once you do something wrong you can’t focus on it, or else you’ll screw up the rest of the game,” she says. “I can apply this to anything else, like schoolwork, or tests.”

Singles player Ani Gregori Asadourian notes how this tennis season has encouraged her to play more and look forward to fun practices with friends. She describes after a sluggish year filled with COVID, playing tennis has allowed her to step up her game, and bring excitement into her life. Being a part of an extremely supportive and close team contributed to her newly-discovered passion in a sport again. “It’s interesting because you’re playing your own individual game, but you still get to have the community of a team,” she explains. 

For many seniors, this tennis season marked the last they would be representing Shaker on the courts. Senior May Le reminisces about her early days of playing tennis at Tri-City in group lessons with other small kids when she was only seven years old, and then joining the Shaker tennis team in seventh grade. Now, she’s the number one singles player on varsity and one of the four captains, six years later.

When she was younger, Le described viewing the captains and upperclassmen as “so high up there,” almost too superior to approach, as she felt like she was a mere underclassman on the hierarchy. However, as she grew older, Le gained a new perspective of the team she’s been on for so many years. She’s realized how these captains have made such a strong impact on her and her leadership abilities.

“Now that I am the oldest, it is so much different viewing the team. Because now I not only view the team as my family, I view them as people I am also responsible for. For me, that’s a really big thing because as a captain, I am not only responsible for the team as a whole, but everyone individually, and making sure that everyone is happy and united. I honestly enjoy and like being there for everyone as much as I can, and being a captain allows me to do that.”

And while Le finds joy in giving back to her team and being an inspirational leader, she still finds leaving the Shaker tennis community bittersweet. “It’s really sad that these are going to be my last memories, but I like that I’m leaving on a high  note, with all these good experiences,” she says. “I feel like that’s what matters the most. Rather than looking at it in a sad perspective, I could totally look at it in this positive light. I’ve met so many new people, really developed as a person throughout the years, and created so many friendships that will last a lifetime.”