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Article Published June 29, 2022

Brooks Finds Her Stride Between the Baselines

By By Dan Fappiano

When Abby Brooks played tennis for first time as a sophomore, she was immediately thrown into a starting role with the Yellowjackets. By the time she came back for her junior season, Abby had shown immense growth on the court and became a leader for the East Haven girls’ tennis team, earning the role of captain for the 2022 campaign.

After competing for the Easties’ swim team as a freshman, Abby was contacted by former girls’ tennis coach Dave Oshana about potentially joining the tennis team in her sophomore year. Oshana knew that Abby was a good athlete and told her that she would make friends with everyone on the team. Oshana’s email convinced Abby to play tennis for the Yellowjackets.

Abby was already friends with several members of the program, one of which was Camryn Lendroth. A senior captain on this year’s tennis team, Lendroth knew Abby from their experience as members of the swim squad. Abby found it easier to join a new team in a new sport knowing that she already had a few friends beside her.

“It was really fun. A lot of my friends were doing it,” says Abby. “My friend Cam, who is on the swim team with me, did it, too. It was nice having a familiar face there with me.”

Abby joined forces with then-senior Isha Patel to play No. 3 doubles for East Haven in her sophomore season. After just two days of practice, Abby was forced to miss a week-and-a-half due to COVID exposure. She came back for three days of practice and didn’t think that she was going to play. However, when Oshana revealed the Yellowjackets’ lineup, Abby was a part of the varsity roster.

However, even though she was a varsity starter, Abby had still never competed in tennis, let alone at the high school level. During her first match, Abby wasn’t necessarily sure what was happening. So, she just tried her best. As the year went on, Abby started to feel more comfortable on the court and began to get the hang of the sport.

“I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know how to keep score. I just went for it,” Abby says. “But after that first match, I started to pick up on all of it.”

With a year of experience under her belt, Abby entered her junior season with a new plan: She wanted to become a singles player. Abby succeeded in that quest and spent most of the year alternating between the No. 3 and No. 4 singles positions with the Yellowjackets. Abby prefers playing on the singles court, because it allows her to focus on what she can do without having to worry about letting her doubles partner down.

“I wanted to try out singles. I liked it a lot more than doubles,” Abby says. “I like being myself out there. When there’s another person, I worry about me messing up. I feel bad if I hit it into the net or over the fence. I thought this year was really fun. It was great trying out singles.”

Anthony Perrotti was in his first year as head coach of East Haven girls’ tennis after having previously served as coach of the boys’ team. It didn’t take long for Perrotti to see that Abby was going to be a key contributor for the Easties in all regards.

“Abby is the epitome of a true leader and excellent teammate,” says Perrotti. “She is a naturally born leader, both on the tennis courts and in the school building.”

Coach Perrotti was impressed with Abby’s positive attitude and her willingness to improve through hard work. After watching how Abby competed and led the team, Perrotti pulled her out of her English class one week into the season. Abby thought that she was in trouble, but instead, Perrotti told her that she was going to be a captain alongside Lendroth and senior Diana Vazquez. Abby didn’t see it coming and was caught by surprise, but for Perrotti, selecting Abby as a junior captain made perfect sense.

“Due to all of her characteristics, it was very obvious that she was very deserving of one of our captain’s roles as a junior,” Coach Perrotti says. “Abby did a tremendous job leading our team this season, and I look forward to all she achieves next spring.”

In just two years, Abby has gone from someone who had never competed in tennis to become an integral member of the Yellowjackets’ roster. As she enters her senior year, Abby’s main goal for both herself and everyone else on the East Haven girls’ tennis team is to make the State Tournament in 2023.

“I want to go to states. We were really close this year,” says Abby. “Next year, I definitely think we can make it with our team. We all played really great this year.”