Winthrop High School girls tennis coach Jess Merrill doesn’t hesitate when asked to identify Megan Chamberland’s best asset on the court.

“She’s so mentally tough. She’s smooth. She’s tough to play against,” Merrill said.

That mental toughness was key for Chamberland, as she battled through illness throughout many key matches in the second half of the season. As the Ramblers’ top singles player, Chamberland helped Winthrop to a 10-2 regular season and a trip to the Class C South semifinals. Chamberland also reached the Round of 32 in the state singles tournament.

For her efforts, Megan Chamberland is the Kennebec Journal Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

Chamberland began playing tennis as a child with her family. Chamberland, who recently completed her junior year at Winthrop, traces her mental approach to tennis back to a match her freshman season. She trailed 4-0 in each set, before winning each 6-4 to pull out a victory.

“I think I’ve built off of that,” Chamberland said.

Merrill cited consistency as another of Chamberland’s strengths. That helped Chamberland in a tough late season match against Hall-Dale’s Rose Warren. The match came while Chamberland was ill, battling the whooping cough that worked its way through Winthrop High School this spring. Throughout the match, Chamberland and Warren traded long rallies, before Chamberland took the match.

“She didn’t play her best, but she did what she needed to do. She really dug deep. I think a lot of her experience helped her out,” Merrill said of Chamberland.

Added Chamberland: “I tried to stay focused.”

Chamberland’s experience helped the Ramblers on the court and at practice, where her input was valuable in the improvement of her teammates, Merrill said.

“In practice, she’s kind of my second coach. She spends a lot of time with the doubles teams, working with them,” Merrill said. “It’s about what the team needs, not just her.”

With one more season of high school tennis left, Chamberland has set a couple goals. One is to advance a little deeper in the state singles tournament. She’s reached the Round of 32 in each of the last two seasons. She also wants to be a key in the Ramblers’ rebuilding and remaining a contender in the Mountain Valley Conference. Winthrop loses a lot of talent to graduation, she said.

“Next year we have to build the program a bit. We lost some seniors who were all key players,” Chamberland said. “For me personally, that’s motivational, being an experienced player.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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