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June 16, 2014

Lawrence improbably boasts two formidable tennis teams

Lawrence improbably boasts two history-making tennis teams

LAWRENCE — Lawrence High is planning to put up a banner in recognition of the historic spring by the Lancers’ boys tennis team.

The Greater Lawrence Tech coed tennis team won what was believed to be its first conference title since 1988.

Who would have thought the city of Lawrence would ever be a tennis hotbed?

It seems difficult to believe as tennis success generally is directly linked to a school’s affluence.

Kids from powerhouse programs like Lexington and Andover and Concord-Carlisle and Wayland often belong to exclusive country clubs and can afford the hefty price of private lessons and some even can go out to the backyard to practice on a family court.

That’s certainly not the case in an immigrant city like Lawrence where many families struggle just to pay the bills. And in a city, where basketball is king.

“To be honest, we surprised the whole city,” marvelled Lawrence High doubles player Jose Matos, an MVC All-Star.

First-year Lawrence High head coach Eric Allshouse said, “It doesn’t even come on the radar, Lawrence and tennis.”

Greater Lawrence standout Jessie Taveras said, “Tennis is not a sport you’d think of here financial-wise. It costs a lot. Basketball you just need a ball and there are courts everywhere.”

“It’s a big challenge,” admitted Doris Michaud, who is co-coach at Greater Lawrence Tech along with Becky Pierce. “We get them in March and some are picking up a racket for the first time.”

At schools whose tennis traditions (and citizens) are rich, players often take up the game in elementary school.

Matos explained, “To be honest, it still puzzles me. It doesn’t make sense. Their cultures are tennis. We have a squad who have to learn, with them its second nature. It’s so much harder when it could be your first game and it could be their 100th.”

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