NEW BRITAIN - The only two seniors on the New Britain girls tennis team, Larissa Tabb and Lela Shredlidze, play a key role with the squad.
“Both of the girls not only bring experience and knowledge of tennis but they’re leaders,” New Britain head coach Joe Canzanella said. “They are fine mentors to the younger girls. This team is first of all outstanding students. I don’t know one that’s not an honor student and during the school day, Lela and Larissa are mentors.”
On Tuesday, Tabb defeated Berlin’s Jess Webber during the No. 2 singles match in straight sets.
“Larissa did excellent,” Canzanella said. “I moved her from the No. 3 spot to the No. 2 based on her performance last match. She came through and beat Berlin’s No. 2 player in a very confident way.”
“I think it’s awesome being a senior, having that leadership role,” Tabb said. “I joined the team my sophomore year, so I’ve been looking forward to captainship my entire time on the team. I love being a leader and an inspiration for the other girls.”
Canzanella insists on having captains for his team because it shows a leadership quality to the younger players, setting an example of what is to be expected.
“They wouldn’t be leaders if they didn’t have a sense of responsibility to the team, the program and their school,” Canzanella said. “They put themselves second and the team first. They’re what you want student athletes to be.”
Although the season has just begun, Tabb has already set the bar high for herself and the rest of the Hurricanes. She would like to win as many matches as possible, then ultimately advance to the Class L state tournament.
Last season, New Britain made it only as far as the qualifying round before a 7-0 loss to Fairfield Ludlowe.
“Hopefully I make it to states this year, me, the team,” Tabb said. “I think that that would be really awesome if we made it there and I think we have the potential to go there.”
Tabb believes the reason why they were able to perform so well on Tuesday was because of their team dynamic.
“During practices we work really well together,” Tabb said. “We have certain lineups, formations, everything that we have to do as a team. We’re cooperative and we’re not bad when it comes to taking instructions. We’re able to work on things so we can get better.”
As for Shredlidze, her outcome was not what she intended during Tuesday’s match, as she lost in straight sets.
“Lela played No. 2 last year and is our No. 1 player this year,” Canzanella said. “She had a difficult match [Tuesday], but she’s a very professional tennis player, so she’ll be ready to play [Wednesday] against Maloney. She’ll be ready to go and bounce back nicely.”
Canzanella continued, “Athletics is all about confidence. Once we can build confidence, especially the growth during the season, for any athlete they grow, their confidence gets better and their skills get better. It’s still early and I’m just looking forward to the rest of the season. We have a bunch of great kids, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org