MADISON — In 24 hours, there could be a couple inches of snow on these tennis courts, as the weather forecast calls for winter to take its last shot at Maine. Today though, it is 62 degrees and sunny, and the high school spring sports season is under way.

As with everything these days, the key word to the spring season is flexibility. Already, there are schools in the area on pause due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Traditional rivalries give way to shorter bus trips, which is how Waterville, a Class B school in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, ended up at Madison, a Class C school in the Mountain Valley Conference, for this girls tennis match to open the regular season.

That flexibility extends to lineups. Waterville girls tennis coach Devin Lachapelle began the preseason expecting to have the same No. 1 doubles team he had in 2019, the last time there was a tennis season. Keira Gilman and Hannah Hubbard played well together two years ago, and the plan was to have them play together again this season. That plan has to wait.

Gilman is currently out. Lachapelle declined to say why, only stressing Gilman should only miss a couple matches and will be back soon. Against Madison on Thursday afternoon, Hubbard was paired with Karin Zimba. It was only the second match the duo has played together, but they played like they’re well past the getting-to-know-you phase of their on-the-court relationship.

Hubbard and Zimba took a 10-0 win over Ariana Burrows and Emily Norton. After the match, Hubbard complimented her new partner on their chemistry.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play, since we’ve all been able to play. It’s really fun. Whoever I’m with, we get along. We just work well together, honestly,” Hubbard said.

It didn’t take long for Hubbard and Zimba to figure out how their styles could complement each other, Zimba said. After a few games, she could pretty much tell.

“(Hubbard’s) a very consistent player. You get everything back,” Zimba said, turning to address her partner, “and you have an amazing serve, too.”

Hubbard had equal praise for Zimba.

“She has a strong serve. She’s good at volleying. Overall, she’s a great player,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said she hasn’t been able to play much tennis since the 2019 season. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing, and the game came back quickly.

“It was rough coming back at first, but once we got into the hang of things, it was pretty quick,” Hubbard said.

Zimba said she’s been able to play some with her sister, Inga, Waterville’s No. 1 singles player.

Lachapelle thought Hubbard and Zimba played well together, well enough that he’s considering keeping them together when Gilman returns. Having players you can mix and match with success is a luxury many teams would love to have. The season is under way, and high school sports face challenges it has never seen. That flexibility will be how everyone gets from April to June, and after a 2020 with no spring sports, 2021 is played to completion.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

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