The MIAA’s decision not to hold an individual tennis tournament this year weighs more heavily on Brooklyn Bindas’ supporters than it does on the 16-year-old, high school sophomore.
“I don’t mind, I still have two more years that I could try to play,” said Bindas, a Rochester resident who attends Wareham High School on school choice. “My team and I, we’re still in the state tournament. … I still find pleasure playing whether it’s playing individual or playing with the team in the state tournament.”
Monday’s 4-1 victory over two-time (2019 and 2021) nemesis Cohasset in the Division 2 state quarterfinals advanced the second-seeded Vikings to a Wednesday semifinal against No. 6 Manchester-Essex Regional in Medway. The winner would advance to the Division 2 state final to be played Saturday at MIT.
At first singles, Bindas can only provide one of three necessary points to win a dual match. Before Bindas decided to attend Wareham for its Baccalaureate program, Coach Geoff Swett had begun building a tennis culture that has taken hold. The Vikings are a threat to win on all five courts with a singles lineup of Bindas, Saige Galhardo and Giuliana L’Homme, an undefeated first-doubles pairing of Olivia Powers and MacKenzie Brodley and a steadily improving second team of Allison Sciaraffa and Fredi Gakidis.
“This is the best team ever,” said Bindas. “We all get along very well. … Even our second doubles (team) has spin on their serves. … I think the whole team has come a long way.”
The last time Bindas competed for the state high school championship it was in the state individual tournament when she was but a seventh-grader. Bindas still made the semifinal round. At 5-foot-6, she is much stronger than she was then, and 2022 seemed to be the year that she would contend in earnest for the individual title.
That title is not there for the taking this spring, but Bindas is contented for now in being a stronger athlete and a better tennis player.
“I think I’ve finally, like, solidified my entire game. I’ve gotten better with height and margin over the net,” said Bindas, who has developed a more attacking style of game.
Net rushes are rare in high school tennis, but Bindas has the overall game and tennis acumen to understand how to sniff out opportunities to take the ball on the rise and in the air rather than staying back and trying to out-rally an opponent. She has worked relentlessly over the years with area professionals to shore up weaknesses and develop an arsenal of weapons.
“When I was younger, I didn’t know quite when I should come to net, but I think I’ve gotten better at that,” she said.
A player of Bindas’ caliber typically plays a lot more competitive tennis outside of the high school schedule, but a tightness in her back muscles has held her back in USTA competition to doubles. Rather than serving every other game as in singles, the doubles rotation means a player is serving once every four games instead.
Bindas has nonetheless cruised through her 2022 high school season at first singles for the Vikings. Her matches more often than not ended 6-0, 6-0, and she face her top competition in the South Coast Conference while playing with an injured shoulder. Bindas served underhanded and still gave up only two games in the victory.
“A couple of summers ago I practiced serving underhand because I had a shoulder injury,” she recalled. “As long as you put a lot of spin on it, it can be effective as long as it doesn’t float up.”
Physical therapy has helped her maintain her tennis career and has been a game changer for Bindas.
“Oh, 100 percent,” she said. “I feel good … it has come a long way. I think it’s been working. Especially, the first couple months, I think it’s really made a good impact on me.”
The past two summers Bindas was not able to work on her singles game, but she says she’s ready to give it a harder go this summer. She has been working on her game with Brandeis coach Christo Schultz and at Sippican Tennis Club with Dustin Goldenberg. Soon college coaches will be following her from event to event.
“I think it would be really nice to play Division I (women’s tennis in college), but I’m also okay with playing for a really strong D-III school,” she said.
Because she started taking high school classes in seventh grade, Bindas will have an option as to whether she stays at Wareham High two more years or graduates a year early.
“I think I want to go into the medical field. I’m not sure what yet, but I’ve looked at optometry, physical therapy, I looked at that a lot,” she said.
Bindas is scheduled to go back to singles competition this weekend in a USTA sectional competition, but if the Vikings are in Saturday’s state final at MIT, that’s where she will be. That would be a welcome conflict.
Until her singles competition ramps back up, Bindas wants to win the gold ball with doubles partner Isabella Camacho at the national doubles tournament this summer in Florida.
By Mick Colageo