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Senior captain Nick Chieppo is leading the Hand boys’ tennis team while playing No. 2 doubles with freshman Will deChabert this spring. The duo has a record of 19-0 for the Tigers, who also went 19-0 during regular-season action. (Photo courtesy of Susan Chieppo )
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Nick Chieppo found that tennis was a great way to bond with his community when he moved to Madison. As a member of the Hand boys’ tennis team, Nick continues to foster kinship on the court while leading the Tigers as a senior captain.
Nick started playing tennis in 3rd grade, and his family came to Madison three years later. Nick got to know many local players at the Madison Racquet & Swim Club, then signed up to play tennis for the high school. After contributing to SCC and Class L state titles last year, Nick recently helped Hand post a record of 19-0 during the 2019 regular season. Nick plays No. 2 doubles alongside freshman Will deChabert and, just like their team, the tandem has won all 19 of their matches.
“I tried other sports, but tennis was the one thing where I felt I could open up and be myself. It helped me develop relationships with a lot of players, and it helped turn me into the leader people see me as,” says Nick. “Everyone on this team has worked so well together. Being a team is a big part of our success. There is such a close-knit relationship between the players, which really helps us.”
While there are plenty of differences between the singles and doubles circuits, Nick says that there is also one critical common denominator. Nick feels that playing with the right mentality is necessary for anyone who wants to succeed between the baselines.
“People think of them as two different sports, but they aren’t too different. Doubles makes it more of a team game, and then singles is more about individual skill,” Nick says. “But it is all about your attitude going into all matches for both. You can’t win the matches without winning the mental game.”
In addition to competing for Hand, Nick has increased his skill set as a result of playing tennis outside of high school. Nick says this extra experience pays dividends when prizes are on the line for the Tigers.
“I’ve improved as a player through a lot of practicing over the years, especially with this team,” says Nick, who will be attending UConn this fall. “My mental game has improved. Throughout my childhood, I did big tournaments, which were super stressful, but practicing more in those situations helped me develop my mind and shape me for big matches like SCC Tournament final matches.”
Nick believes that a team will perform better in the face of pressure if everyone is on the same page. It’s a notion that Nick emphasizes in his capacity as a captain.
“I was extremely honored to be named captain. It has been my goal to step up to the plate and help the team out,” Nick says. “One of the main things I’ve tried to stress is getting to have a tight bond among the players. Once the players get to know each other, it makes a huge difference in the morale of the team and handling pressure.”
Head Coach Dawn Fagerquist says that Nick has the type of demeanor that would make him an ideal leader for any team.
“Nick is easygoing, both on and off the court, and even with his peers. Nick is a good leader with his team and, especially now with the season coming to end, he is still positive and outgoing,” says Fagerquist. “Nick will be an asset in whatever he does and wherever he goes.”
With the regular season complete, the Tigers are focused on defending the two titles that they won a year ago. While the expectations are high, Nick knows that Hand always feels comfortable when playing on the big stage.
“It puts us under more stress, because we are almost expected to win everything. The pressure is a good thing, though, because we handle it very well and use it in a constructive way,” Nick says. “We want to keep the season and that team mentality going as long as possible.”
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