Girl's Tennis Teams
The most dominant stretch in the long and storied history of the girl's tennis program came between 1984-88, when the Patriots went a remarkable 75-1, won 56 consecutive matches and five state and DCL titles in a row.
The head coach through the historic run was head coach Jim Pattie, whose eye for talent and ability to blend and unify individual stars made the system work. A long-time reading teacher at the Concord Middle School, Pattie held the post from 1980-1988, after .500 records in his first two years, things changed in 1984 when the team featured sophomores Jill Slansky and Meghan O'Sullivan and freshmen Betsy Keane and Justine Higgins. This group formed the core of the first title, as the Patriots avenged an Eastern Mass Finals loss to perennial power Winchester by defeating the Sachems, 3-2 in the state finals. Pattie went on to earn Boston Globe Coach of the Year in 1986 and was a finalist for National Coach of the Year in 1988. Following the fifth consecutive title in 1988, Pattie handed over the reigns to Hall of Famer Mary Beth Crabtree, who went on to coach the team to five more banners between 1990-1994, a remarkable run of ten championships in 11 years!
“We were blessed to have great players whose attitude and chemistry made things work,” said Pattie. “Due to the great coaching they got in the off-season at Thoreau Club, I knew they were always working hard at their games year round, and they all came together each spring ready to challenge each other. The internal competition was so high, and we always had strong leadership from the seniors that created a really special dynamic. It was a consuming but incredibly rewarding experience.”
“That first title was amazing, as we battled back and won a close match against a very good Winchester team which had beaten us a few weeks earlier,” said Betsy Keane Dorr '87. “Playing together as a team for all four years was a special feeling as opposed to playing individually the rest of the year.”
Individual honors were numerous throughout the run, including two state doubles championships by Jill Slansky and Meghan O'Sullivan, a singles state title and All-American honors for Justine Higgins as well as many Boston Globe and Herald All-Scholastic honors and regional rankings.
“We really had fun as a group, and it was so unique and special to play as a group in what is normally an individual sport,” said Jill Slansky Colleran '86. “We sacrificed many things - like going late to proms, and missing social functions, but it was all worth it. Winning all those state championships for our school was such an honor.”
One of the most remarkable legacies of the program was the number of players who competed at the collegiate level and beyond. The list includes Jill Slansky, who went on to become captain and team MVP at Temple; Meghan O'Sullivan, a two-time captain and New England Division III doubles champion at Wheaton; Betsy Keane, a four-time Mid-American Conference champion and MAC All-Conference honoreee at Miami (Ohio); Justine Higgins, who was captain at James Madison; Jen Crabtree at Miami (Ohio); Jen Callen, who captained the University of Virginia and later served as head coach at both Dartmouth and the University of North Carolina; Erika Elmuts, who captained Harvard to an Ivy League title and national ranking; Stephanie Lipstadt at UNC-Charlotte and Amy Slansky at Ithaca College.
“The greatest part of those teams was feeling like you were part of an incredible legacy, and dominating a league like the DCL was really special,” said Erika Elmuts McDaniel '89. “We all knew we were part of something very special, and we enjoyed every minute of the experience of playing with our friends and representing CCHS.”