"It's a very poor misconception, but it happens all the time," Freedom head coach and athletic director Steve Amaro said of the idea that doubles play is a step down from singles competition. "I think that you start on the very first day and you explain that East County tennis doesn't have a whole lot of USTA players. We might beat some matches against each other with our singles, but ultimately, if we're going to go to the playoffs, we're going to have to have some strong doubles play that's going to separate us from other teams outside of our league. So it really comes down to doubles."
It was the phenomenal play of the Falcon doubles that lifted the team to a Bell Game win over Liberty last Thursday, as Kim Kicenski and Samantha Zanarini, Katie Worden and Amber Basore, and Nikki Welton and Amber Connor swept the varsity doubles action to lead Freedom to victory.
"The Bell game was very exciting. Freedom knew going into it that it would be a tough day - we were playing without Sarah Osborn, who was in Washington, D.C. all last week for the National Youth Leadership Conference. So we moved everybody up in the lineup one spot," said Amaro. "Ultimately our doubles did come through again. It seems that we can always find the singles victory if we can get the doubles sweep."
Amaro is so steadfast in his belief that a strong doubles game is essential to the success of the team that he continues to leave the door open for his top singles players to play doubles tennis if that's their preference.
"The team recognizes that I see doubles as equally important - it's not a demotion. Here at Freedom I always say that a player could be the No.1 tennis player, but if they decide that they want to play doubles I'll honor that and they can play No. 1 doubles," said Amaro. "It doesn't affect ladder strength; it just means that your No. 2 would play No. 1."
Another thing that Amaro does to reinforce the importance of the doubles game is rotate between singles and doubles action on Court No.1 so that the team recognizes that both parts of the team are equally important.
Liberty took three of four singles matches over Freedom, as No. 1 player Eva Boden downed Erika Cruz 6-2, 6-0, Elaine Shin bested Emma Fister 6-1, 6-0 and Mariah Paz eked out a tie-breaker over Rebekah Phillips 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5).
Senior Amy Sidrian recorded the lone singles victory for the Falcons, knocking off Sam Peterson in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, to seal the team victory for Freedom.
"Their singles play was really impressive," said Amaro. "Elaine Shin played the best match that I've ever seen her play in four years. Eva Boden played very well at No. 1 singles and their freshman, Mariah Paz, played very well at No. 4. She's going to be an incredible competitor throughout the years."