Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
Before this current season started, Bartlett High School senior tennis star Myranda Smith had the same doubles partner since the seventh grade. She and fellow senior captain Brenda Sundara were a formidable pair that had much success together.
This year the two had to split up and go in a new direction when Sundara became the team’s number one singles player, and it was a new beginning, a move that brought Smith a new partner in sophomore Indre Naujokaite.
“At first I was nervous playing with a younger player,” said Smith, “then, when we started working together, I became comfortable with her. She is experienced and mature for her age.”
The fit was so good that the team won six of its first eight matches together and has become one of the top teams in the Southern Worcester County League.
“I am so glad that she is my partner because I can rely on her, I feel like I can trust her while she’s at net or she’s back vice versa, she is a great player. We have built a good connection,” continued Smith.
The Lithuanian-born Naujokaite is also quite pleased with the arrangement. “It’s amazing, I love playing with Myranda, she has more experience and we have a great connection. She’s my role model. I have been looking up to her for years so it’s special to be playing doubles with her.”
The pair’s coach Chris Nasis is also happy with the way things have worked out. “One thing they do really well is the way they talk to each other after each point, that communication is outstanding. Both of them are really intelligent. They work very hard in practice, which is a credit to them.”
Nasis emphasized the fact that that they have the best individual record on the team. “They have been in some tough matches. When they have been down, they came back to win. That is a credit to those two working together so well.”
“Myranda has a lot of mental toughness, that is really impressive about her. She is very strong,” said Nasis about his senior leader. “She is a top-notch student, she made high honors, and she is very excited about that. She has been a great captain for us, and when an upperclassmen does that, the lower classmen looks up to them.”
Smith has been doing it all at Bartlett since she came to the school as a seventh grader. She is a high honor student; in show choir, president of the medical careers club, and treasurer of the student council.
As an athlete, simply put, she is one of the best in the high school. She was goalie on the soccer team and has been on the basketball team since the seventh grade and captain this past season, and of course, she has had a stellar tennis career.
When she is not in school she coaches 4-7 year olds in the Webster Youth Soccer league.
With all this going in her life, it’s still tennis that really makes Smith tick. “Tennis is my favorite sport and has been the highlight of my high school sports career. It’s not stressful, it’s more individual-based and there is so much that you can focus on while you are playing, so you can make adjustments easier. There are so many more opportunities to get yourself out there.”
Her teammate, Naujokaite, whose first name is pronounced “injury,” came to Webster with her family from her native Kaunas, Lithuania, at the start of third grade. It was hard adjusting at first to a new country but she done so wonderfully and when you talk her you can barely hear an accent.
“It was hard sitting in class and not understanding anything. I had to make a lot of adjustments, but once I did I liked it better here.”
Like Smith, she also has a great love for the game of tennis, which she picked up from playing casually with her family, and would like to play in college once she finishes high school. For now her goal is simply to, “keep our game up and win the rest of our games.”
The way they are playing that seems like a given.
and for more on Bartlett tennis and other high school sports, check out View from the Sidelines every week in The Patriot.
- Tuesday, 22 May 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports