Springfield College is widely known for its athletic nature and the talented Division III sports teams that it produces year after year. Each season, there are many standout athletes, many being upperclassmen that have devoted blood, sweat and tears to the program.
Every year, there are also first-years that showcase an enhanced capability. These freshmen enter with the chance to make a name for themselves, and the teams they represent.
This year the No. 1 slots on both the Springfield College men’s and women’s tennis teams are filled by gifted freshman. Tanner DeVarennes from Prospect, Conn. is the men’s No. 1. Standing at 5-foot-10 with a lanky structure, DeVarennes finds power through his long frame. In the men’s fall season, DeVarennes registered a 6-3, 7-6 win against Endicott.
“I’m coming in and trying to work as hard as I can and set a good example for my fellow freshmen and the rest of the team, and working to improve individually and the team as a whole,” said DeVarennes.
Unfortunately, Devarennes suffered a broken ankle in the annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association Tournament, but he has full confidence that he will be at full speed when the men’s tennis team hits the court for their season in the spring.
Rachel London from Port Jefferson, N.Y. is currently battling in the women’s No. 1 spot. So far this season, London has struggled somewhat in singles, going 2-7, but the petite first-year has without a doubt shown seasoned form, constant composure and steady growth throughout the first portion of the fall season.
Against Clark University, London ultimately lost (6-1, 5-7, 8-6), but showed tremendous heart by scrapping her way to a tiebreaker against a senior foe, Sarah Sachs. Regarding London’s singles play, coach Toby Coffin commented.
“Her impact is huge. She hits the ball hard, consistent. I know she isn’t that big, but mechanically it’s all there,” stated Coffin.
London and her partner, Stephanie Foster, have had success in doubles so far this season, tallying a 9-8 win over Wheaton College, an 8-2 win over Western New England College, and a dominant 8-1 victory over Clark University.
London and fellow freshman Foster were recently moved up to the No. 1 doubles spot, where they have flourished, recording an 8-4 victory over Smith College and taking care of Suffolk University 8-1.
“They played most of the season at No. 2; last week against Smith we moved them up to one because we think they are making the transition from high school tennis to college tennis,” Coffin said.
“Strategically they are getting better in doubles and gelling as a team. Their record obviously proves that they are capable of playing No. 1, and that’s why we made the switch.”
Switching courts, another standout freshman athlete this year is women’s volleyball player Lauren Holt. Holt is an Athletic Training major from Granby, Conn.
For starters, Holt currently leads the NEWMAC with a .411 hitting percentage. Her growing role and influence in her team’s impressive 13-1 start has earned her NEWMAC Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week honors.
“One of our biggest team goals this year is to never be satisfied. We hope this mentality will keep us improving through each game and eventually bring us to the regional and national tournament,” stated Holt.
“Individually, I have the same mindset. After every practice or game I always leave thinking, ‘What is my next step to getting better?’ Besides skills I also want to get closer with the team.”
Holt has proven herself as a powerful force at the net, dishing out strikes that ignite a spark behind her team.
“Lauren has done a great job; all of our first-years have done a good job,” head coach Moira Long said.
“They have a lot they have to take on; there is a lot of expectation for success. They just continue to compete, and that is the premise of our program, to be competing at all times.”