While the Andover High girls tennis team celebrated outside at the Greendale YMCA in Worcester — the finals were moved from St. John’s of Shrewsbury to the indoor courts about five miles away — coach Alan Hibino just smiled.
“Look at them,” said Hibino. “There’s 25 girls celebrating as if they all played today. Only 10 of them played. In fact, most of the girls were lucky to play at all if other schools didn’t have extra girls with them. That’s why this is so special. This is a team.”
If you followed the Andover girls tennis team, you’d have thought you were reading about a runaway Mack Truck, running over everything in its sight.
And the record, 21-0, including an Merrimack Valley Conference title, a Division 1 North Sectional title and, last but definitely not least, a Division 1 state championship trophy, would appear to prove that fact.
But according to Hibino, a former tennis player himself for the Golden Warriors, it was anything but easy, particularly since May 31.
Andover won five state tourney matches, four by scores of 3-2, including the finale.
“If everybody only knew how tough it was,” said Hibino. “We had a great season, but it has never been easy. But that’s why it’s been so much fun. We earned every win, every match.”
While there were a lot of 5-0 victories — 14 to be exact — there were three nail-biting, 3-2 wins over long-time tennis powerhouses Winchester, Westford and Lexington.
And when the state tournament started on May 31, Andover beat Acton-Boxboro 3-2 before dusting Masconomet Regional, 5-0.
Then came meetings against Westford, Barnstable and, last week, Shrewsbury, that not only ended in 3-2 victories for Andover, but came down to the final match.
Better yet, in the four 3-2 wins in the state tourney, the final match was won by four different Andover singles players/doubles teams.