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Sports Person of the Week
Ha Loved Playing Doubles for North Haven
Kaitlyn Ha played No. 2 doubles for North Haven this year and recorded 10 victories while competing alongside fellow senior Sophia DelVecchio. Ha was selected as co-Most Improved Player with DelVecchio at the end of the season. (Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Ha)
Kaitlyn Ha’s freshman year at North Haven marked the first time that she played tennis competitively. Kaitlyn kept improving as she continued playing and wound earning a spot in North Haven’s varsity lineup as a senior this spring.
Kaitlyn formed one of the No. 2 doubles tandem for the North Haven girls’ tennis team during the 2021 season. It means a lot to Kaitlyn that she was able to work her way up the ranks after joining the team with minimal experience as a freshman.
“I thought it was fun. I really liked it when I first started playing it and decided to keep doing it,” Kaitlyn says. “I wasn’t exactly great at first, but I still enjoyed it. The team was really nice. I thought with a little more hard work, I could get better.”
Kaitlyn spent her freshman and sophomore years at the JV level, playing in ghost matches that didn’t count toward the final score. Even though those results had no bearing on the outcome, Kaitlyn still wanted to show Head Coach Bob Migliorini that she was committed to the sport and determined to secure her place on the varsity roster.
“I was really committed. I went to practice every day,” says Kaitlyn. “I really wanted to play, and I really wanted to show my coach that I was committing to get better.”
Just as she was getting ready to make the leap to varsity, Kaitlyn saw her junior season get canceled due to COVID-19. Rather than stay on the sidelines, Kaitlyn began taking both private and group lessons at North Haven Health & Racquet. Oftentimes, Kaitlyn’s private lessons were shared with teammate Sophia DelVecchio.
As she entered her senior season, Kaitlyn went from practicing with DelVecchio to teaming up with her as partners on the doubles court. The tandem played No. 2 doubles for North Haven and earned 10 wins on the year. At the end of the season, Kaitlyn and DelVecchio were both selected as North Haven’s Most Improved Players.
Kaitlyn felt nervous heading into the season, because she didn’t know what to expect at the varsity level. However, with help from DelVecchio and Coach Migliorini, Kaitlyn was able to make a smooth transition to the big stage.
“I was really nervous. I had really only played ghost matches. I lost almost all of them. The first two or three matches were hard to get used to. The varsity level is very different from JV,” Kaitlyn says. “But my coach made it really easy for us to understand doubles strategy and how to adapt to varsity. It was pretty smooth. I thought we were pretty successful.”
Kaitlyn was always a doubles player throughout her career with North Haven. Initially, Kaitlyn thought that she would like singles more when she started playing the sport. However, Kaitlyn always enjoyed having a doubles partner beside her and felt that competing alongside DelVecchio made her become a better tennis player.
“At first, I was really into singles. But I really liked the idea of playing with someone and someone having your back,” says Kaitlyn. “I think it was cool that I was playing with my friend. We were really close and had great communication. We talked about strategy and how to get better. I think it really helped my game.”
Kaitlyn wasn’t necessarily sure of what to make of tennis as a freshman, but she became enamored with the strategy of the sport as her career at North Haven unfolded. Kaitlyn would watch professional doubles tennis teams and observe every move they made. By the time she was a senior, Kaitlyn felt that her skills had grown tenfold on the tennis court.
In addition to tennis, Kaitlyn was also a member of the North Haven field hockey team for four years, spending two seasons with the varsity squad. While the two sports have their differences, Kaitlyn feels that playing both field hockey and tennis has helped her grow as an overall athlete.
“They’re very different. Field hockey was more intense for me, especially since I played more. Even JV was really tense. But I put a lot more effort into improving in tennis,” Kaitlyn says. “There’s a lot of things I transferred over from field hockey: the communication—since I was with a partner—athleticism, and hand-eye coordination.”
Kaitlyn will attend UConn to pursue a degree in computer science. She is hoping to join the school’s club tennis team, but will continue playing casually with her friends either way.
Kaitlyn didn’t know expect when she first picked up a tennis racquet at North Haven. What Kaitlyn found was both a sport and a group of teammates that changed her life in a positive way forever.
“I feel really proud calling myself a tennis player. I love the team. I love the sport,” says Kaitlyn. “I really respect the team and the coaches. Tennis really changed me. I’m really glad I took the step and joined the team.”