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Dan Murtagh is leading the East Haven boys’ tennis team as a senior captain and the Yellowjackets’ No. 1 singles player this spring. (Photo courtesy of Dan Murtagh )
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Dan Murtagh had never even touched a tennis racquet prior to stepping foot in East Haven High School. Dan joined the boys’ tennis team as a freshman and has since progressed into a solid player and a quality leader for the Yellowjackets. This spring, Dan is leading the Easties as one of two senior captains on the squad.
Dan feels thankful for all the help that he’s received from Head Coach Anthony Perrotti and former head coach Rob Manghnani during his four years with the program.
“They both help with the leadership qualities and helping me improve my tennis IQ with where to place the ball, when to get to the net, and stuff like that,” Dan says. “Both coaches have helped me with my conditioning and getting the fundamentals down.”
Dan has focused on fundamentals from the second he started playing tennis. He remembers hitting several shots that way out of bounds the first time he took the court at practice.
“My first practice, I was nervous playing against all these experienced players who had played for years,” says Dan. “I went out there and did my best, but most of my shots were going over the fence. I wasn’t hitting anything near the court at all.”
However, practice made perfect for Dan, who’s worked his way up East Haven’s lineup throughout the past few years. As a senior, Dan has spent most of his time playing No. 1 singles for the Yellowjackets this season.
“Since the beginning of the season, I was in the singles 1 spot and had to face some of the toughest players throughout the state,” Dan says. “It means a lot, because if someone told me in my freshman year that I’d be playing singles 1, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
Dan has been playing singles for the past two years. In his freshman and sophomore years, he saw time at No. 3 doubles. Last season, Dan rotated between playing No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles with Joe Brown, with whom he captains the team this spring. Dan says that he prefers playing singles.
“I like playing singles, because it’s all up to you,” he says. “You don’t have anybody to rely on, and it’s a better feeling when you beat an opponent, because it’s all your hard work.”
Coach Perrotti says that Dan is doing an excellent job of leading East Haven as a captain. Perrotti believes that Dan is helping pave the way for a successful future for the Yellowjackets.
“He shows a lot of maturity on the tennis court,” says Perrotti. “He’s a leader and a guy everyone looks up to, and he embraces that. His teammates know he has their back, which is a great quality to have.”
Dan feels honored to wear the captain’s hat for the Easties. He always makes sure that he’s there to support his teammates.
“I take a lot of pride in it, because I always looked up to my captains when I was an underclassman. I get the same feeling when they’re coming to me and asking questions,” Dan says. “Cheering on my teammates is important, because it boosts their confidence and helps with the mental side of tennis. I try to cheer on all my teammates when I can to give them a little push when they’re in their matches.”
While this year marks his final go-round playing tennis at a competitive level, Dan looks forward to hitting the court on a recreational basis for years to come.
“I find it really important because, unlike other sports that are over after high school, tennis can always be there,” says Dan. “When in your 50s and 60s, you can play to stay in shape. I find that really important.”
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