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Canton looks to build confidence in 2nd half of season

CANTON – Canton High girls tennis coach Jerry Havrl hasn’t lost confidence in his young team. “They have as many skills as anyone they play,” Havrl said. “They just need a few wins in a row.”

The first half of the season has been a challenge. The Warriors are just 2-8 and are in danger of missing the CIAC Class S tournament for just the second time in 20 years. Canton needs to win 50 percent of its matches and needs to go 8-2 in its final 10 matches or miss the tournament for the first time since 2003.

“They’re doing the best they can,” Havrl said. “The kids could use a little more confidence in themselves.”

Nearly every player is in a new position this spring.

Canton owns wins over Coventry and a first-year team from Ellington. They dropped a pair of 4-3 decisions to East Granby and Tolland in April. On last Friday, the Warriors dropped a deceptive 6-1 decision to East Granby. Three matches went to a decisive third set and one was decided by a tiebreaker.

Senior Annie Rhea is playing at No. 1 singles and has compiled a 5-5 record against some of the top players in the league. She’ll need to win 60 percent of her matches to qualify for the State Open individual tournament. “She’s learning you can’t play the same way in each match,” Havrl said. “No team has a poor No. 1 player.”

The remainder of the team is comprised of underclassmen. Sophomore Nancy Kutz has looked sharp at No. 4 singles. In doubles, freshman Carrie Nefler and sophomore Katherine Eich are still learning to work together as a team and are close to winning 50 percent of their matches. Freshman Meg Davis and sophomore Cassie Drecola have also shown exceptional growth at No. 3 doubles.

Canton had five matches in four days this week, ending with two matches with Enfield on Thursday.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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