Anna Higgins knew she had work to do when the spring arrived.
For the third straight season, the Andover tennis star was working with a new doubles partner, bonding with her on the fly while persuing her own dream of a state title.
“It takes a little bit of time to get into a groove with a new partner and adjust to their playing style,” said Higgins. “But I think it’s going well.”
The teammate beside her may be different, but the results have been the same so far this spring — Higgins has been dominating.
A year after delivering a stellar 15-1 record and earning Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star honors, three-year Golden Warrior doubles standout Higgins is off to another outstanding start, entering the week with seven wins in 2019 alongside new partner Caroline Yang.
“I’m thrilled!” said Higgins, who is also a member of the National Honor Society. “Tennis season is my favorite time of the year. I love being part of the team. The chemistry of our team is fantastic! And we are playing really well.”
Behind the lead of Bentley University recruit Higgins, Andover is off to a 9-1 start as a team, with dreams of its first state title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2014-15.
“Anna is an unbelievable teammate who is always able to think of the team before anything else,” said Golden Warriors head coach Alan Hibino. “She has worked very hard on her individual tennis game and is having a great season. She has had a great four-year career at Andover and has a bright future ahead of her at Bentley.”
Inspired by her mother’s love of tennis, Higgins began playing the sport in elementary school, before developing a true passion in middle school.
After spending her freshman season as a backup, Higgins won a varsity doubles position as a sophomore.
Teamed with Olivia Burns, Higgins finished 2017 with 10 victories, helping Andover finish 14-6.
“It was incredibly nerve-wracking,” she said. “I was playing with the senior captain who had way more experience, so that put pressure on me to play my best. Being a varsity player as a sophomore is one of my proudest achievements. Seeing all of my hard work pay off was so rewarding and it pushed me step up my game.”
Higgins upped her game even more last year as a junior.
The team of Higgins and senior Elia Petros finished the season 15-1. The duo clinched Andover’s Division 1 North semifinal 3-2 victory over Boston Latin with a marathon 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4 win and scored a victory over the eventual state champion Acton-Boxboro doubles team in the North final.
It has been more of that success this season. Teamed with Yang — and once with Grace Lyons — Higgins has won seven matches. Her toughest have been a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory over North Andover and a 6-2, 6-3 win against Burlington.
As a career doubles player, has she ever had the itch to switch to singles?
“I love playing doubles,” she said. “I like the team dynamic. Having someone else on the court with me helps me stay focused and tuned into the points. I’ll look forward to moving more into singles next year in college.”
And what makes a good doubles partner?
“Trust and communication,” she said. “Also, one of the best parts of my game is my net game. I love to poach and put away volleys, which is a huge part of doubles. And you definitely need to be able to have fun together!”
Higgins is thrilled to be playing tennis at Bentley, but she has big plans before her high school career is done.
“It’s bittersweet for me because it is my last season,” she said. “I want to have a successful season, and want to have a lot of fun with everyone. As a senior and captain, I know the younger girls are looking up to the other seniors and me. We want to win every match. We are the Warriors after all!”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.