By ALEX SPONSELLER The East Bay Racquet Club out of East Providence recently won the Mixed 18 & Over Sectionals and will next compete at nationals in Arizona in October. Leading the way for East Bay was captain Meghan O'Keefe of Cranston. This year
By ALEX SPONSELLER The East Bay Racquet Club out of East Providence recently won the Mixed 18 & Over Sectionals and will next compete at nationals in Arizona in October.
Leading the way for East Bay was captain Meghan O’Keefe of Cranston.
This year marked the return of the United States Tennis Association’s sectional tournaments, as last year’s event was washed away due to the pandemic. East Bay’s team has been largely the same core for a decade, with O’Keefe being involved since 2012.
East Bay topped Dedham Health and Athletic Complex of Massachusetts in the finals to punch its ticket to Arizona. Not only did the victory ensure a trip west, but it also gave East Bay some redemption as it fell to Dedham back in 2019 to be eliminated from the competition.
“The team that we beat in the finals this year was the team that we lost to a few years back, so we were familiar with a few of their players and had some strategy. Having that experience from both a strategy and a playing standpoint was beneficial,” said O’Keefe.
Considering many of the players have been working toward this goal for the better part of a decade, O’Keefe and the club were excited – and surprised – to finally get it done this time around.
“It was surreal, we couldn’t believe it and I think we are all still floating. Obviously we were trying for it, but never did we think that we were actually going to be able to beat all of those talented teams from the Boston area. We are just so thrilled,” said O’Keefe.
The team was also surprised to run the table the way it did since last year’s schedule was so thrown out of whack due to COVID.
“You don’t get the same fairy dust in practice that you get in actual competition, a lot of our players need that adrenaline rush. However, we all continued to play with one another even throughout the dark ages of COVID, so we got to play with each other even more and practice more which helped,” said O’Keefe.
Now, with nationals just two months away, East Bay plans on continuing to work hard and be in top physical shape as it gets set to take on some of the top talent in the country.
“We are in it to win it at nationals, so we are just going to continue to practice all the time,” said O’Keefe. “Whether it be playing with each other, hitting the ball machine, working on our fitness because Arizona is hotter and dryer. We just need to be at our best by the time we get there.”