Sports Person of the Week
Farnoli Seeing Success at No. 1 Singles
Junior captain Julia Farnoli has a record of 8-2 playing No. 1 singles for the Westbrook girls’ tennis team this spring. (Photo courtesy of Julia Farnoli)
When Julia Farnoli was a child, she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her older sister Sara. Julia watched Sara play tennis at Westbrook High School and thought to herself, “That could be me one day.”
Now, Julia is living her dream as she competes for the Westbrook girls’ tennis team. Julia plays No. 1 singles for the Knights and is also leading the team as a junior captain this spring.
“When I was about nine years old, my dad took my older sister Sara and I to the courts and taught us the basics,” Julia says. “I played off and on for years and loved watching Sara play for Westbrook tennis. When I was 13, my sister encouraged me to take lessons and play in matches.”
Those lessons have paid dividends for Julia, who has only lost two matches in her high school career. Julia posted a record of 20-0 and was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team as a freshman two years ago. This year, the junior has a mark of 8-2 at No. 1 singles for Westbrook, which is 9-1 as a team.
“With only three returning varsity players, I had no idea how the team would turn out this year. But each girl has worked so hard that we have [a 9-1] record,” says Julia. “Their motivation is so impressive, and they haven’t let any obstacle, including COVID-19, stop them.”
One of Julia’s favorite aspects of tennis is the community surrounding the sport. While she loves winning matches, Julia also cherishes the relationships that she’s formed both on and off the court.
“I really love the community that Westbrook tennis has fostered,” Julia says. “Our other sports teams, every parent and spectator, team alums, and my teammates have created an environment full of respect and support. It’s precious to see team traditions passed down and new memories taking place every day.”
Head Coach Paula Fitzgerald praises Julia for her compassion and the willingness to help teammates when they’re struggling. A great example of that came prior to Westbrook’s recent match against Coginchaug, when Julia lent some support to sophomore singles player Ava Ciarcia.
“Julia is one the team’s leaders and a great player always looking to improve,” Coach Fitzgerald says. “The best story is how there is a new player at No. 3 singles who was struggling with aspects of her game. Just on her own, Julia called her up, and they went to some courts in Old Saybrook for an hour to work on things before coming to our practice. That extra support is everything to a starting player.”
Julia says that watching Ciarcia notch her first victory of the year was a wonderful moment. Ciarcia’s win helped Westbrook defeat Coginchaug by a 5-2 score on April 22.
“My favorite moment this season has to be watching Ava Ciarcia earn her first win,” says Julia. “That day, Ava was our fourth point and won the match for us against Coginchaug. It was a really big moment for the team to celebrate.”
Julia appreciates how Coach Fitzgerald has helped her raise her game during her tenure at Westbrook. Julia wants to keep improving in order to finish her junior year strong.
“I’m very fortunate that she sets high goals for me and does everything she can to help me reach them,” Julia says of Fitzgerald. “Every time I play, I try to learn from my mistakes. Whether it is mental or physical, I always have room to improve.”
As Westbrook enters the second half of its season, Julia is determined to help the Knights continue their successful run in both 2021 and beyond.
“This season has been better than I could have imagined,” says Julia. “The team’s happiness and support are contagious. I can’t wait to see how far we’ll come as a team and what we have in store for next year.”