Local standouts help RIC women's tennis team serve up superb season

Local standouts help RIC women's tennis team serve up superb season

There are several local connections on this season's Rhode Island College women's tennis team, starting with, from left, the team's head coach, Smithfield High teacher and former Sentinels coach Adam Spring, and continuing with five of the Anchormen's players, Smithfield's Noelle Tiberi, Greenville's Jorgie Martin, Smithfield's Julie Reddy, Chepachet's Sadie Campanella, and Greenville's Isabella Romeo.

PROVIDENCE - One quick glance at a press release from a Rhode Island College women's tennis match and you'd swear you were reading the results from a Smithfield High alumni affair.

Sophomore Julie Reddy, a 2013 graduate, is the fourth singles and second doubles players for the Anchormen. Her classmates, Noelle Tiberi and Jorgie Martin, also graduated from Smithfield the same year and play third doubles.

Freshman Isabella Romeo, who picked up her diploma this past spring, has also seen a bit of action in doubles. And let's not forget RIC's head coach Adam Spring, who was the Sentinels' coach from 1998 to 2011 and has taught business classes at the high school for the past 18 years.

And if you're eyeing another local connection, there's junior Sadie Campanella, a native of Chepachet and 2012 graduate of Ponaganset High who's the club's first singles standout and Reddy's teammate on second doubles.

These five players have helped the Anchormen put together a magical 10-1 start that includes a 5-1 record in Little East Conference play - four of those wins coming via 9-0 shutouts - and RIC outscoring its nine opponents, 85-12. The Anchormen suffered their first loss on Saturday afternoon in New Hampshire when they fell to the Little East's other unbeaten team, Plymouth State, by a 5-4 score.

"I think the reason why we're doing so well is because we all want it so bad," said Tiberi. "We all want to go far and we all want to see each other do well."

How well have this band of Anchormen done this season?

Reddy is 11-0 in singles (with one of Reddy's win coming in third singles) and Campanella is 10-1, and they have teamed up to sport a 9-1 record in doubles.

Martin and Tiberi are 7-0 in doubles, and Tiberi, who also won a fifth singles match and two at sixth singles during the season, has also captured doubles matches with Reddy and Romeo as her teammates. Campanella also owns another doubles victory, pairing with Kim Daigle in first doubles to win a match.

Campanella was also named the Little East's Women's Tennis Player of the Week (from Sept. 7-13) for posting 3-0 records in her singles and doubles matches during a stretch in which RIC had three matches in a five-day span.

All the records have been nice, noted Spring, but they aren't the only reason why he's savoring this special season and doing so with a group that he's known since they entered high school.

"I'm just privileged to be coaching them and thankful that they came here to play," said Spring, who for the past 12 springs has also been the head men's tennis coach at Johnson & Wales. "I think it's awesome, and it's one of the things I enjoy most in life, it's to be around the people that I care about. I really enjoy going out everyday to see them play and watch them get better."

Spring's last three seasons coaching the Sentinels resulted in consecutive Division II state titles (the last two with perfect records), and helping him win those three championships were Reddy, Tiberii, and Martin, with Romeo also pitching in on the 2010 and '11 titles.

After the 2011 season, Spring accepted the women's job at RIC and inherited a 2-14 team that was coming off a winless season in 2010, and one of the freshmen on his roster was Campanella, who was a Second-Team All-Stater as a senior with the Chieftains.

As a freshman, Campanella was named the LEC's Women's Tennis Rookie of the Year as she went 7-6 in first singles and 6-8 as a member of the first doubles team, and her efforts helped Spring and the Anchormen conclude that 2012 season with a 4-10 mark.

"That first season was a little rough," said Campanella. "(The next season) was definitely better; everyone wanted to see the team get better. Just from there, getting some new girls and everyone being friendly and supportive of each other, it really boosted this team."

Last year, the Smithfield connection of Reddy, Tiberi, and Martin decided to rejoin their former Sentinel coach at RIC and helped the Anchormen make a quantum leap in the LEC standings.

The Anchormen not only posted a 14-3 mark and set a program record for wins in a season, but also ended up with a 7-1 record in Little East action.

"I thought it was an easy choice to come here and play tennis," said Martin. "Not many people get an opportunity to have their high school coach be their college coach, and we're lucky to have him (as our coach)."

While Campanella returned to first singles and netted a 9-7 mark, Reddy went 13-1 in fourth singles (as well as 2-0 in third), Tiberi was 12-2 in fifth singles (and 1-1 in fourth), and Martin added five wins in sixth singles.

In doubles, Campanella and Martin teamed up to go 9-8 in first doubles, while Tiberi and Reddy went 12-4 in second doubles. Reddy and Tiberi were also named All-LEC First-Team selections in singles and Second-Team picks in doubles.

Unfortunately for the Anchormen, that season ended in a second-round loss to Bridgewater State University in the Little East Tournament, but this year, the goal is crystal clear - claim the program's first tourney title since 2005 and play some "bonus tennis" after that.

"I'd like to see us win the Little East (championship) and go to the nationals," said Spring. "I've never done it, but it would be a really cool thing to do it with these kids. It'd be a new experience for all of us, and that's what we're striving for."

Whatever happens over these next few weeks, keep this in mind: Chelsea Brown, the team's captain and third singles/first doubles standout, is the only senior on the Anchormen. If everyone returns to the team next season and a few promising underclassmen get added to the mix, the sky's the limit to the damage the Anchormen can do.

"Chelsea's a great senior and captain to have, and we're going to miss her a lot," said Spring, "but hopefully, everybody comes back and is ready to go, and we can do this again next year."