The Bishop Hendricken boys high school tennis team has jumped out to perhaps its best start in the program’s history this spring season.
The Hawks have rolled to a 9-0 start and have topped some of the state’s biggest powerhouses including South Kingstown and Barrington. Although some may be surprised by Hendricken’s dominant start, the Hawks feel that this success has been a long time coming.
“It’s been slow and steady, we’ve been getting better and better. Two years ago we made it to the final four then last year we made it to the state championship. We want to get there again but this time we would like to win it. We have been improving each year,” said Bishop Hendricken coach Steve Crawford.
The Hawks’ top singles player Chad Doorley also feels that the club has been on the rise recently.
“We’ve been creeping forward here. It’s definitely been an upward progression and we want to win it this year,” said Doorley.
After mounting a 6-0 record, the Hawks were faced with adversity as Doorley was injured and set to miss two matches. Despite losing its top singles player, the Hawks rebounded and won both in his absence.
“One of the great things about this team is that we have so much depth. They lost me but everyone can shift up and keep their game up and fill the spots,” said Doorley. “We definitely have the pieces, the building blocks are there, we just have to put it all together and really want it.”
Part of the team’s success has also stemmed from chemistry and a passion for the sport, according to Crawford.
“We have a deep team – we have 18 kids on the team and they can all play tennis. Their attitude is tremendous, this is the best group,” said Crawford. “They love tennis, they love each other, they’re kind, they’re polite, they’re enthusiastic. I never have to speak to them, they’re a coach’s dream.”
Experience had also been key. Hendricken’s roster is made up largely of seniors who have spent their entire high school careers playing at the varsity level, including Doorley and Aditya Kini, who have been the club’s top pair for all four years.
“When I came in as freshman I started at No. 1 singles and Aditya started and No. 2 so since the beginning we’ve started at the top,” said Doorley. “That year there was a lot of great high school tennis so we didn’t always have success, but as we’ve gotten better opportunities have opened up and now we’re ready.”
Although the Hawks of been the state’s hottest team this season, Crawford feels that there is still a long road to travel, and Hendricken will need to bring its best as the regular season begins to wind down.
“There are a few good teams out there. South Kingstown has obviously dominated high school tennis here for 20 years, they’re always solid and we’ll have to face them again. Barrington is loaded, they’re young and really good. If we get (to the state championship) it’s going to be a white-knuckled tennis match on every court,” said Crawford.
Doorley and company are hungry to finish the job this season and to bring Hendricken its seventh state title.
“Everyone knows that Hendricken hasn’t won a state championship in 25 years. I haven’t won a championship, the other guys on the team haven’t won a championship,” said Doorley. “We can all play tennis and we all really want it this year. That’s something that has been in the front of our minds.”