By Jay Bonadio
In an otherwise unspectacular season for Saints women’s tennis, two doubles partners have shined on the court.
Allison Hess and Monica Burbelo are currently leading the team as a doubles partners with a record of 6-3. The two work well together as partners and are also very talented during solo matches.
Playing together for most of the season, they have become used to how the other plays and what the other’s next move is.
Being friends off the court helps them because they feel less pressure during a match. When either one makes a mistake, they try to encourage each other, rather than get rattled or upset.
Hess, 19, is originally from Panama City Beach. She went to J.R. High school where she lettered all four years at the No. 1 position. The sophomore was looking for a small school close to home, and happened to walk on to the team.
She has posted a 3-1 record this season in singles play this season, but it is her doubles play with Burbelo that has garnered attention.
“Monica has stronger volleys and is more aggressive at the net. Therefore, when I come in I feel less pressure,” Hess said. “The fact that we both end the point at the net makes us stronger than our opponents. I feel most comfortable when I am serving and returning serve and Monica is playing at the net.”
Burbelo agrees with her teammate and partner on their game plan.
“Allison has stronger baseline shots, where as I feel better at the net. We both serve well,” Burbelo said.
Burbelo, 21, is originally from Westerly, R.I., where she attended The Prout High School, and she also lettered all four years at the No. 1 position.
Burbelo found Flagler while looking for a school that was close to the beach with warm weather and a good tennis program.
The junior is 5-4 in singles play so far this season. She and Hess have given the team a boost during a 3-8 season.
The pair’s strategy is to play aggressive and just have fun.
“We give high-fives and say stuff like ‘nice shot’ and ‘good job,’ ” Burbelo said. “Knowing that we support each other makes us a stronger team.”