This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published May 30, 2019
Anna Wootton has been winning some big matches for the North Haven girls’ tennis team. Anna is a junior who’s in her second season holding down the No. 4 singles position in the Indians’ lineup. After going 14-8 last year, Anna has a record of 12-5 this season, including a couple of three-set victories against formidable opponents.
Anna’s performance is one of the reasons why North Haven is enjoying another successful campaign. The Indians have 13 victories and also earned berths in the SCC and Class M State tournaments this year.
“Anna is definitely having a good season for us. She’s a key cog in our singles lineup, which is the strength of our team,” Head Coach Bob Migliorini said. “Anna is a major contributor and a great teammate. Everyone likes Anna, and she gets along well with the other girls on the team. She’s a great kid and a really nice tennis player.”
Anna started playing tennis when she was in 3rd grade. A few years later, she began taking lessons at North Haven Health & Racquet Club. Anna joined the high school team as a freshman and played several “ghost matches,” which are matches that are played while the varsity contests are happening, but don’t count toward the final score.
Anna came into her sophomore season looking to solidify herself as a regular in North Haven’s lineup. She earned the nod to play No. 4 singles and turned in a great debut campaign on the varsity court.
“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be when I was actually playing against people in stressful situations, but I think it motivated me. I wanted to come off the court saying that I helped the team win that match,” Anna says. “I definitely got better as I realized what I had to work on and what I was good at. It was a good progression throughout, and I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that I could do that.”
With a solid year under her belt, Anna wanted to continue racking up the victories at No. 4 singles for North Haven as a junior. Anna focused on better placement of her shots, along with coming up to the net more often, and improved in both of those areas this year. Anna has no reservations about going for a big winner when the opportunity is there, but she prides herself on playing a consistent game in which she outlasts her opponents and forces them to make that critical mistake.
“It isn’t always the hardest shot that wins the point. I just try to be consistent, wear the other person out, and have good placement on my shots to make it hard for my opponents to reach the ball,” says Anna. “I use that to my advantage, and I know that I have enough energy to keep going on points. I play a lot of good opponents that don’t always give me the best setup to hit winners, so it’s easier for me to just play consistent.”
One of those opponents is Cheshire’s Jenna DeGennaro, who defeated Anna during North Haven’s first meeting against the Rams this season. However, Anna flipped the script by earning a 6-1, 6-1 win versus DeGennaro the second time around, after which she took the rubber match with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory when the two teams met up in the SCC Tournament.
The season series between Anna and DeGennaro came down to that final set of their third matchup. Anna says that she was determined to walk off the court victorious.
“I wasn’t going to play three sets to lose, and that was my motivation. I just kept returning and hitting and being consistent, and that ended up helping me win,” Anna says. “It was a nice confidence booster knowing that I could beat a very good player. It showed that I had gained resilience, consistency, and power throughout the season.”
Anna needed every tool in her arsenal in order to win a recent marathon match against an adversary from Guilford. Two weeks ago, North Haven was on the road to face Guilford in its last contest of the regular season. The match got underway on May 14, but was postponed due to rain with the Indians trailing 3-1. When play resumed on May 18—the day after North Haven’s prom—the Indians picked up a couple of quick victories to tie the score, meaning that the outcome hinged on the racquet of Anna, who fell into a 3-0 hole during the decisive third set.
With emotions running high, Anna settled down, slowed things down, and started approaching the match on a point-by-point basis. When she won one point, Anna knew that she could win another, and she started feeding off that momentum. Before she knew it, Anna had won six-straight games to win the match by a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 score and give North Haven a 4-3 victory, marking the first time the Indians had defeated Guilford in several years.
Anna says the win was the biggest highlight of her career, especially since she persevered through exhaustion after having cut a rug at the prom the previous evening.
“There were great emotions. There was a sense of relief that I hadn’t messed up, and I was also surprised that I had been able do it. I had just done Cotton Eye Joe in high heels, and that took a lot out of me,” Anna says. “I felt very proud of myself that I was able to do it. I think that I showed my commitment to my team and my resilience to keep playing. It was definitely worth it in the end.”
While Anna is proving a clutch performer on the court, she also enjoys performing on the stage. Anna has participated in the North Haven High School musical the past three years, including a role in its production of Beauty of the Beast this winter. Anna, who plays piano, saxophone, and bassoon, is a member of North Haven’s wind ensemble and orchestra. Next year, she will be joining One Voice, which is one of the school’s elite choirs.
Of course, Anna still has more season of tennis ahead of her at North Haven. Anna says she feels honored to compete for a great team that’s part of successful athletic program where everybody cheers on their colleagues.
“North Haven has a really good sports community. Everyone likes to see each other succeed in every other sport and supports them in whatever that is,” says Anna. “Being a varsity player on a team is cool, especially for your hometown, and being a contributor on the tennis team is awesome.”