Apr. 27—OLD LYME — Not long ago, Lauren Rahr’s dad, Dave, found her senior year scrapbook from Waterford High School in which Rahr declared her dream was to teach math and coach tennis for a program similar to Waterford’s.
“Now here I am,” said Rahr, in her first season as the coach of the unbeaten Old Lyme High School girls’ tennis team and her second year as a math teacher at the school. “My dad was like, ‘You know, Lauren, you accomplished your dream.’
“Between the work environment and the great kids I have the chance to coach … a great school, great colleagues, great kids.”
The Wildcats are 7-0, all 7-0 victories including Monday’s sweep of East Hampton. They face more Shoreline Conference competition later in the week at home against Coginchaug on Wednesday and at Valley Regional on Thursday.
Yet none of Old Lyme’s singles players had ever competed in a high school match prior to this season.
At No. 1 singles is junior Abby Sicuranza, a 5-foot-9 power-hitting former first baseman for the Old Lyme softball team who was set to switch to tennis last year before the pandemic hit but never got the chance. Sicuranza beat East Hampton’s Katie Arndt 6-1, 6-1.
At Nos. 2 and 4 singles are twin sophomores Callie and Livie Bass, the younger sisters of former Old Lyme No. 1 Emma Bass and the daughters of former East Lyme boys’ and girls’ tennis coach Michelle Bass and her husband Peter. The twins, refreshingly, jog after every loose ball when usually a player might use a casual stroll for that purpose to catch a breather.
Callie Bass won a quick and decisive match at No. 2 singles Monday, 6-0, 6-0, as did sophomore Sam Tan at No. 3, while Livie Bass closed out the 7-0 win at No. 4 singles, edging East Hampton’s Eshani Karkun 6-3, 7-6 (2).
“I really love it,” Sicuranza said of the atmosphere on the Old Lyme team, which drew 24 players to the first day of practice and required Rahr to press her dad into service as an assistant coach. “I look forward to playing with the team every day. Miss Rahr and Mr. Rahr … she brings so much energy, she makes us happy and excited to play every day. She tells us exactly what we need to work on but in a fun and motivational way; you don’t feel like you’re being grated on by a coach.”
Monday’s doubles victories came from Lauren Wallace and Alexis Fenton, a pair of soccer players, at No. 1 and Izzy Reynolds and Fiona Hufford at No. 2, both 6-0, 6-0, and from the No. 3 team of Sophia Ortoleva and Elaina Morosky, winning 6-0, 6-1.
On the very first day of practice, Rahr, who was a junior at Waterford in 2014 when the Lancers went unbeaten during the regular season and were seeded first in the Class M state tournament, had each one of her players set up in a doubles format. Rahr, who went on to play both singles and doubles at Endicott College, said she learned a lot about her own game by playing doubles and wanted her players to experience that early.
“There was a lot of movement that first day,” Rahr said. “After that I knew they were going to be hardworking and dedicated. We run different drills and I always try to focus on the ‘why.’ They listen so well and they’re so eager to apply it.
“I say, ‘Go out there and I don’t care about what you hear about these other teams. Play tennis you can be proud of.'”
Sicuranza worked in the offseason to get rid of the rust that had developed from not playing tennis throughout her middle school years, which is when she switched to softball. She works at Lyme Shores Tennis & Conditioning Center and worked on her game there with pros Andre Danford and Bobby Schlink.
“I had to play a lot just to get my racket on the ball a lot, just for my head space and the mental aspect of the game,” Sicuranza said. “Also I grew maybe six inches since the last time I played.”
Callie and Livie Bass also get coached by their mom at home — “she taught us pretty much everything we know,” Callie said.
Now the Wildcats combine to write their own story.
“It’s been so fun,” Callie Bass said. “Miss Rahr is such a good coach. She’s so supportive. She’s good at teaching us to be as successful as we can.”