ANDOVER — First-year Andover girls tennis coach Alan Hibino calls senior Julia Alagero a “doubles specialist,” which some might consider a left-handed compliment.
That is, it could mean that Alagero just isn’t good enough to play singles.
In her case, however, it means that Alagero is just a superb doubles player which, on an 18-1 team that might be a state contender, is where her talent can be best utilized.
Alagero is in her third year as a starting doubles player and her second year at first doubles. After finishing 8-1 in the regular season with Savannah Deady last year, she is unbeaten with sophomore Laurie-Maude Chenard this spring. And, over the weekend, the pair won three straight matches to advance to the North semifinals.
A lefty who is talented at the net, Alagero takes no offense at the doubles specialist label. In fact, she agrees with it.
“I’ve been playing doubles since my freshman year and I like it more,” she said. “I’m better with volleys so I think I’m a better doubles player.”
Hibino says that, in addition to be left-handed, Alagero’s style suits her better for doubles.
“She’s very crafty and her slices make it difficult for anyone she plays against,” said Hiubino. “And being left-handed helps out.”
Agrees Alagero: “It’s nice being left-handed. Both of us get to hit forehands on the outside, which makes it tough to play against.
“I think my serve is the best part of the game and being left-handed helps. I can slice it on the outside and they don’t expect it.”
Having a different partner every year can be taxing, but Alagero is accustomed to it.
“Usually, it takes awhile to adjust (to a new partner), but Laurie and I really clicked this year so it didn’t take as long,” she said. “Laurie is very focused, likes to attack and is always going for the ball. I like that.”
Alagero and her teammates have pretty much dominated everyone this year. Of the Warriors 18 wins, 16 have been via a 5-0 shutout. The only non-shutout victory was a 3-2 win over Lincoln-Sudbury, which avenged their only setback.
“It (shutouts) is satisfying, but I’d rather have good competition,” said Alagero, an excellent student headed to Providence College in the fall. “I’d rather lose and get better as a team.”
Alagero will get the competition in the upcoming state team tournament in which the Warriors hope to come close to 2007, when they won the state crown.
“I’m really looking forward to it,’” she said. “I think this team is the best since I’ve been here. I think we’re strong throughout the lineup.”
In fact, it’s got to be strong when you have one of your best players focused to doubles.