Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

July 3, 2008

Making their mark Wilmarths give Phillips Andover tennis first NEPSAC title

With a pair of United States presidents, countless renowned scientists and writers and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listed among its alumni, it's difficult for a student to make history at world-famous Phillips Academy.

But Andover's Lauren Wilmarth, with the help of twin sister Victoria Wilmarth, permanently etched her name into Big Blue lore thanks to her work on the tennis court.

The junior bested archrival Milton Academy's top player in the decisive match that gave Phillips Academy its first ever NEPSAC tourney title.

...

Over the past two seasons, quite a rivalry had grown between Phillips and Milton Academy. A year ago, the Big Blue cruised through the regular season undefeated, only to fall to Milton in the New England Prep tourney. This season, the Big Blue lost only once in the regular season, to Milton Academy.

"Initially it was a shock because we hadn't lost a (regular season) match in two years," said Lauren Wilmarth. "It was devastating, but it also made us stronger and we channeled our energy toward the tournament."

But advancing to the finals of the 15-team tourney held on May 24 wasn't easy.

In temperatures that reached the low 90s, Wilmarth had to win three matches to earn a berth in the finals. She did just that, but the work took a toll on her body.

"During the early matches my back began to hurt," she remembered. "I was scared because I had made it that far. But my mom (Mary Ann) is a physical therapist and she helped me stretch out. I sat in the shade and drank a lot of water and tried to keep my mind off it."

Another challenge waited in the finals in Milton's Sarah Miller, who had dealt Wilmarth a loss in the regular season.

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