Langille Delivers Big-Time for the Tigers
When you’re a No. 1 singles player in tennis, the spotlight is always on you to perform well and come through for your team. Claire Langille had that responsibility on her shoulders as a member of the Hand girls’ tennis team this spring, and the senior delivered time and time and again for the Tigers.
Claire proved a true leader both on and off the court during the 2022 season. Claire’s performance at the top singles spot helped the Tigers post an overall record of 15-8 while making an exciting run to the Class M state final.
Claire’s passion for tennis has been developing for many years. While she tried out other sports as a youngster, tennis was the one that resonated the most with Claire.
“Tennis has always been the one thing that has been constant in my life. Pretty much when I could walk, I started playing tennis,” says Claire. “I’ve been playing all year-round since I was that little. It’s always been an important part of my life.”
Claire strives to get better every time she sets foot on the court. The unique environment that tennis provides allows Claire to compete to the best of her ability while forming friendships with people that she might not have met otherwise.
“My closest friends are on this tennis team. Tennis itself and the community it brings you is insane,” Claire says. “I played in a few camps over last summer with people from California that I still talk to almost every day. That just shows how close tennis can bring you.”
Claire’s ability to create relationships with both her Hand teammates and the tennis community in general shows how much she cares about the sport. It means a lot to Claire that she had an opportunity to represent the Tigers while playing No. 1 singles, and she couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to compete alongside as she took on that challenge.
“I definitely feel like if you don’t have a good class with you, that it can kind of ruin the sport, but I was lucky enough to have a good community around me, and that just kept me in it,” says Claire. “I just loved the fact that I could be a part of the team, but be individual, as well.”
Claire had a stellar season while playing No. 1 singles for Hand as a senior this year. After posting a regular-season record of 11-5, Claire won four matches in the Class M State Tournament to help the Tigers advance to a showdown against Stonington in the championship match. While Hand was unable to win that contest, Claire felt that the overall experience of her senior season was more than she ever could have asked for.
Claire finished the season with an overall record of 15-7. First-year Head Coach John Gage saw Claire make a major impact and knew that she was going to give an exceptional effort whenever she stepped between the baselines.
“Claire came through for us big as far as our team’s success. We relied on her heavily for our success,” Gage says. “Claire brings a lot of positive energy. She makes the whole experience for the team more enjoyable.”
Claire enjoyed every second of her experience with the Hand girls’ tennis team. On those rides to and from matches, Claire was often the one who was singing and dancing to the music on the bus. While she wasn’t a captain, Claire still led the Tigers by serving as a role model who her teammates could look up to.
“Now as a senior, being No. 1 singles, I’m so happy I’m able to help freshmen and the underclassmen. They’re always asking for help on some shots, and I just love it,” says Claire. “Everybody is so communicative and kind about wanting to learn more.”
Claire’s connections with her Hand teammates are complemented by the bonds that she shares with other members of the local tennis scene. Claire has respectful relationships with several other No. 1 singles players in the area, often texting them before and after matches just to chat. However, the biggest motivational source for Claire from the people who are always there to support her each time she competes.
“My friends come to my tennis matches. My mom and dad are at every single tennis match, and it just motivates me to do so well,” Claire says. “I could never ask for more. Everybody is so willing to help me.”
While her tenure with the Tigers has come to a close, Claire is looking forward her next adventure on the tennis courts. Claire will be attending Union College in Schenectady, New York to play Division III tennis and study mechanical engineering. Claire has visited the school a few times, has met with the coaching staff, and she couldn’t be more excited about this new chapter in her life.
Claire’s journey to the top of Hand’s lineup helped her become a leader who her fellow Tigers relied upon. Claire’s courage on the court resulted in plenty of victories for both herself and her team, and the senior feels proud to be graduating on the heels of such a memorable season.
“As No. 1 singles, you play some tough matches. There were a few matches where I came back from being down,” says Claire. “All of those experiences with your team with you, it all just makes it all worth it.”