Girls varsity tennis swings into MCAL playoffs for first time in decades


Corina Karr

Senior captain Audrey Johnston swinging at a tennis ball on the AWHS practice court.

As the regular fall sports season comes to an end, the girls varsity tennis team continues to prepare for the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) playoff tournament. This is the team’s first time in the MCAL finals in three decades and the players are ecstatic.

The AWHS girls 2021 league season has had 10 wins and 6 losses, earning them a #4 seed in MCAL. The impressive score record surpasses all of their past seasons.

While the last time AWHS tennis was in MCAL tournaments is not clear, it certainly has not been since the 1990s. This is Coach Jeff Palladini’s first season as head coach, but he is not new to the tennis community as he has been involved as a parent for the past six years and has been the girls’ assistant coach for the past two. Palladini has never seen such a successful season at AWHS, and believes that this may be the best season in AWHS history.

“No one seems to know for certain but as far as he [Jeff Price, coach of the boys tennis team for the past 20 years] knows this is the first time we’ve ever made it to MCALS,” Palladini said. 

So, what has shifted the team to improve so dramatically? Coach Palladini credits the freshmen, who make up over half the team of 16 players, as well as the strong senior captains Francis DiCarpegna, Audrey Johnston, Hailey Hagan, and Jane Tananaeva.

Senior captain Francis DiCarpegna mid-swing as a tennis ball flies through the air.

“The real difference maker this season is the class of extremely talented freshmen. This has provided us with a greater depth than we’ve had before, allowing us to be competitive up and down the ladder,” Palladini said.  

The girls agree, praising the captains, new additions, and overall team growth. They emphasize the close knit team that the girls have formed.

“The team bond this year is a lot better than it was last year, which was my first year, and everyone gets along as a whole group, not in little groups,” said sophomore player Allegra DiCarpegna

 The girls couldn’t be more thrilled about the opportunity to participate in the MCAL tournaments. It’s a new experience that the entire team can bond through, as none of them have experienced MCAL tournaments before.

“It’s pretty exciting that we’re going to MCAL’s because we haven’t gone in so long,” said freshman player Carly Amborn.

The AWHS girls varsity tennis team proves that teamwork makes the dream work, and continued to do so at the first MCAL tournaments on Friday, Oct 29. Unfortunately, the girls took home a loss.

“Though our Falcons fought hard and played well, Redwood proved too much and we lost 1-6,” Palladini said.

Senior captain Francis DiCarpega in position, waiting for the ball at the AWHS practice court. (Corina Karr)

Despite the team’s loss, their journey is not yet over. Four girls will still compete in the individual and doubles competition later this week. The competitions will take place between Nov. 3-5 in Novato. Freshmen Ana Fatjo and Carly will play singles while freshman Siena Michelson and sophomore Sara Rice will play doubles.

With amazing teamwork, leadership, and skill, the AWHS girls tennis has taken a turn for the better this year, and hope to continue to do so at their upcoming MCAL competitions this week.