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One year after making it to the Class L doubles final, junior Gianni Esposito saw success on the singles court for the Guilford boys’ tennis team during the 2019 season. (Photo courtesy of Gianni Esposito )
Gianni Esposito likes how he has to rely on himself while playing singles as a member of the Guilford boys’ tennis team. Gianni’s trust in his abilities has helped him perform well under the spotlight at a few marquee meets during the past few seasons.
Gianni recently completed his junior campaign playing tennis for the Indians. As a sophomore last year, Gianni teamed up with Sam Inchalik to reach the final match of the doubles draw at the Class L State Championship.
This spring, Gianni turned in another strong postseason showing by advancing to the quarterfinal round of the Class L singles bracket and then reaching the quarterfinals at the State Open Championship. His overall record on the year was 18-5.
“I like tennis, because it’s all on you, and you are in control out there,” says Gianni. “The big states matches are fun because, when you get deep in the tournaments, you have everyone on your team cheering you on, and it’s about who handles the pressure better. I like playing under pressure. The intensity of it all is fun.”
While Gianni found a home on the singles court this year, he still appreciates the intricacies of playing the doubles game. In the end, Gianni feels that he’s well-equipped to compete on either circuit.
“They are super different because, with doubles, if you have a bad shot, your teammate will be there. It is also a lot faster when everyone is coming to the net,” Gianni says. “In singles, you have to be in control of yourself mentally and physically. You also need more endurance in singles when you’re out there alone.”
Gianni appreciates that he’s had the chance to compete in so many postseason matches. Gianni believes that playing on the big stage has helped him grow as both an athlete and a person.
“I’ve improved a lot over the last few years, because I’ve gotten more experience through tournaments,” says Gianni. “With that tournament experience, I know how to handle myself and have learned that it’s truly about who is working harder.”
Head Coach Rob Messer feels glad that Gianni enjoyed so much success as a junior this season. Messer adds that Gianni displayed his leadership skills with the way he handled a couple of setbacks on the court.
“Gianni took great strides this year in being a leader on this team. He had some great wins against some very talented players, but it was how he handled his tough losses that showed what type of kid he is,” Messer says. “Gianni lost two matches that had to be moved or postponed cause of rain. He had the momentum in both of those and ended up losing both. Rather than complain, Gianni took it in stride and came out strong in his next at-bat.”
Gianni feels optimistic about how Guilford is shaping up for his senior year. Gianni thinks that both he and the Indians have a great chance to be in the championship conversation come this time in 2020.
“For the team and I, we are a lot more confident, because we realized we can beat the bigger teams and hopefully win SCCs,” says Gianni. “Winning SCCs is our biggest goal next year. I want to make All-State for singles next year and hopefully make it to the state finals.”