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Sara Farnoli went undefeated during the regular season and then claimed the title in the Shoreline Conference 1-2 Singles Tournament on behalf of Westbrook girls’ tennis as a senior this spring. (Photo courtesy of Sara Farnoli )
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Sara Farnoli started playing tennis when she was 12 years old. Sara always enjoyed the sport, but kicked things up a notch when she joined the girls’ tennis team at Westbrook High School. Following a successful freshman campaign at No. 3 singles, Sara was motivated to elevate her game. Sara went on to play No. 1 singles during her final two seasons before graduating this year.
“I really got into it my freshman year when I played for the team, and I wanted to focus on it more,” says Sara. “I got really into it, because I was the finalist in the No. 3-4 Singles [Shoreline Conference] Tournament. I had a really good season and loved the girls I played with, so I decided to focus more on tennis.”
Sara played No. 2 singles as a sophomore and then took over the top spot in Westbrook’s lineup in her junior and senior years. Sara’s ability to play strong along the baseline was one of the biggest factors behind her success on the singles circuit.
“I’m pretty good at keeping a consistent ball back and forth, hitting good volleys from the baseline,” Sara says. “This past spring, I got a net game, as well, and that really helped take my game to the next level. That and a consistent ground stroke at the baseline made me a solid singles player.”
Head Coach Paula Fitzgerald says that Sara made a tremendous amount of progress since her freshman season. Fitzgerald attributes much of Sara’s success to her excellent work ethic.
“Nobody works harder trying to achieve a goal than Sara. Each year, she raises the bar on herself from the previous year,” says Fitzgerald. “Sara’s goal going into her senior year was to win the Shoreline championship. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself because, when you set the bar to win it all, you don’t give yourself much room. But she accomplished it.”
Sara posted an unblemished record of 20-0 during the regular season this spring. She won all 20 of those matches in straight sets.
“It’s definitely harder to maintain that record. Once you’re getting to the end and you’re thinking about going undefeated, it’s hard, because it’s in the back of your mind,” Sara says. “It was a relief at the end when I won that last match. I couldn’t believe it happened.”
Sara went on to take first place in the Shoreline Conference 1-2 Singles Tournament, earning All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors. She also qualified to compete in the State Open, was named Westbrook’s Most Valuable Player, and made the New Haven Register’s All-Area Team.
“Ever since my freshman year, being a finalist, I just always wanted that Shoreline win. That was my goal,” says Sara. “My junior year, I lost in the finals, and this year I knew was the last chance I had to win.”
Sara also served as Westbrook’s lone captain in her senior season. Sara says that leading the Knights was a big privilege.
“I was the only captain, which made it interesting, because all the leadership responsibility fell on me. But I liked that, because I got to work with all the girls on the team,” Sara says. “It was really cool and a good experience. It made this season my favorite season.”
Since graduating from Westbrook, Sara has been busy training in the Georgia Tech Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. Sara first had to complete her basic training at boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes in Lake County, Illinois.
“It was tough, but it was really cool, and I grew from it. It was something I’ll definitely remember,” says Sara. “I have to take ROTC classes, and I wear my uniform on Tuesdays and Thursdays around campus. I’m excited because, when I graduate, I can be an officer in the Navy. I want to serve and be a part of that community.”
While she’s beginning a new chapter in her life, Sara is still finding time for tennis at Georgia Tech. Sara recently made the cut for the school’s club tennis team and will continue to play the game she loves against some stiff competition.
“Tennis is bigger down here, and I didn’t think I’d make the team, but I did. It’s another great way to make friends and be a part of another community,” Sara says. “Tennis has always been a part of my life, and I’m glad I get to continue it in college.”
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