Sports Person of the Week
Tobin’s a Force on the Singles Court
Risa Tobin netted a record of 16-6 while playing both No. 3 and 4 singles for the North Haven girls’ tennis team as a junior this spring. (Photo courtesy of Risa Tobin)
The North Haven girls’ tennis team put together an excellent season in 2022, and one of the biggest factors behind the Nighthawks’ success was the performance of junior singles player Risa Tobin. Risa’s efforts bolstered a talented singles lineup that helped North Haven earn 15 victories as she emerged as a leader on the team.
Risa first stepped on the tennis court as a youngster, drawing inspiration from her father. She would often go to a local pool club that had courts and hit tennis balls during the summer. After playing just for fun at first, Risa began attending clinics and then started competing in tournaments in middle school.
Risa also played ice hockey for a few years throughout her childhood. Risa knew what competition was all about, making her transition to the high school tennis circuit go smoothly.
“Tennis was like a secondary sport for a while and then, when I stopped playing hockey, I was able to focus on tennis and commit myself to it,” says Risa. “I had been doing competitive sports, so it was a natural transition for me.”
Risa has become a solid presence in North Haven’s singles lineup as her career has unfolded. Risa played No. 3 singles in her sophomore year, competed out of the No. 4 spot in the regular season as a junior, and then jumped back up to No. 3 singles for the Nighthawks’ postseason run this spring. Risa’s ability to limit the risks that she takes during matches has helped her establish herself as an integral member of North Haven’s roster.
“I think I’m a pretty consistent player. Especially for singles at this level, the actual tennis match is about keeping the ball in play for a while, instead of just trying to earn the points as quickly as possible,” Risa says. “One of my strengths is just being able to stay consistent and play the long game.”
Risa has focused on making improvements to her game since she started playing tennis and continued that trend in the 2022 season. Risa also recognized the importance of mental preparation for her matches during her junior campaign.
“Coming into this year, I really wanted to work on the mental aspect of tennis. Since I play singles, it’s such an individual sport, so you really have to rely on yourself. In matches, if it’s getting to a hard part or getting difficult, it’s really easy to lose your mental focus,” says Risa. “I was working on keeping my focus this season and improving how I was thinking about the game throughout the season. I think I did actually get to improve on that a bit.”
One of the biggest moments for Risa in her junior season was North Haven’s matchup against Hand on April 11. In her team’s fourth match of the year, Risa claimed a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 4 singles to help the Nighthawks edge out the Tigers by a 4-3 score. The victory meant a lot to Risa and her teammates.
“That was a big win, not for me as an individual, but for the team as a whole, because I think it was one of the first times we’ve beaten them in 10 or 20 years,” Risa says. “That was a really proud moment for us, and we were able to see our growth through that.”
Risa finished her junior year with a record of 16-6 for a Nighthawks’ squad that posted an overall mark of 15-7. North Haven qualified for both the SCC Tournament and the Class L State Tournament, winning one match in each bracket.
At the conclusion of the season, Risa was named one of North Haven’s captains for the 2023 campaign. Head Coach Bob Migliorini was pleased with Risa’s stability throughout this season and will be counting on her lead the team through her work ethic as a senior next year.
“She works really hard in practice and is a real fighter on the court. The strength of our lineup is definitely within our singles lineup, and Risa is an important piece of that,” says Migliorini. “I’m hoping she brings good leadership to the team and also continues to do well in playing in the singles lineup.”
Risa feels proud about how she progressed on the singles court as a junior. Risa took note of specific things that she needed to improve upon and then went to work in order to sharpen her skills in those areas.
“Getting to see my improvement and also being able to correct my failures motivates me. If I have a shortcoming, I like being able to recognize that and see how I can work to get there,” says Risa. “If I don’t do as good in a match or I don’t get a good score on something, I like to look at that and then see how much room for improvement I have there.”
Risa has many valuable takeaways from a junior season that was filled with lessons learned. As a singles player, Risa understands that she needs to rely on herself during her matches, but she also values the relationships that she’s created with her teammates. Risa believes that those relationships played a major role in North Haven’s success this year and will only grow stronger in her senior campaign.
“One of my biggest takeaways is how important it is to build up the connections with your teammates,” Risa says. “Even though you’re not playing the match right with them, I think building everyone up is something that really helps to boost morale, and it really helps the team connect and perform better, as well.”