Name: Hannah Porath
High school: Marblehead High School
Spring sport you play: Tennis
Are you a team captain?: Yes
How long did it take to sink in that your senior season of tennis, and the rest of your senior activities, were cancelled?: It took about a week of quarantine for it to really sink in that senior year was over. Initially, school wasn’t closed for the rest of the school year, but we all knew it soon would be. Thinking about all of the activities that come with senior year, experiences that only happen once in a lifetime, was really difficult to process. Graduation, prom, senior rafting, senior project ... just everything would either be changed to fit with quarantine or it would be canceled.
Being outside on the courts in the spring is something I’ve looked forward to every year of high school. Not being able to enjoy that last part of my senior year was very hard; all I’ve wanted to do it be out there with my team. Even just being on the bus with everyone, being freezing cold and wrapped up in blankets before our matches on those particularly cold days, I miss it all.
You had tremendous success on the courts at Marblehead, never losing a regular season match. What was the key to your success?: The support of my team is what really allowed me to be successful. Just being able to play alongside my teammates and seeing them sitting along the fence kept me motivated.
Also, having the best coaches, Tracy Ackerman and LuAnne Gabel, kept me focused and energized during my matches. They're the most supportive and enthusiastic coaches that really pushed our team to be the best it could be. My mom has also always been my biggest supporter; she's come to basically all of my matches. Seeing her on the sides has always been a comforting presence, and she'll always be my No. 1 fan.
In what ways have your tennis teammates pushed you to become a better player over the years?: Because I played second singles, Michelle Shub has always been above me in the first singles position. I think Michelle has always pushed me to be a better player and kept me motivated. We played side-by-side for the majority of our high school careers, and I think that allowed us to be the best players we could be. The team’s spirit has always kept us to be united and has motivated us to be the best players we can be. We always make sure to cheer each other on from the sides and keeping positive energy high.
Are there any plans for graduation that the school has made?: For graduation, we're having it take place over three days in a kind of drive-thru. We drop off all of our textbooks and borrowed school supplies, then we get our cap and gown. We then drive up to the school field house, where they have the graduation set up. With our cap and gown on, we walk across the stage and the school records us. I think they're planning to make a whole graduation video, with speeches and everything. We can take pictures with our families and graduate while keeps the staff and students safe.
What's the best match you ever played in your high school career?: My best match has to be junior year against Manchester Essex. They're an extremely strong team and one of our top opponents. That match last year was truly a turning point for me for the season and as an overall player.
I went in confident with nothing to lose, and just put on a strong game face. I really pushed myself and put everything into the match, and that paid off with the outcome. I was one of the only winning matches that day for my team; even though we didn’t win overall, I think the team really grew and took a lot away from the match. Coach Tracy was extremely proud of me, and I remember her words when I walked off the court. She told me that she had never seen me play a match like that, and it was truly my best match. From that point on, I played smarter and tougher while still enjoying the sport I've always loved.
Where are you going to school next year?: I'm going to St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. My mom grew up in the North Country and I've always loved it up there. As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew that it was home for me. As for majors, I'm going in undecided, but I have an interest in psychology and in environmental sciences.
I hope to play club tennis while I’m there. I think that being on the school tennis team would be a little too much for me with schoolwork; I also want to do something a little more relaxed and just for fun, and the club team fits that. I also sail, so I’m hoping that I can do some sailing up there, too.
What’s something that's made you happy during quarantine?: I've always loved art; being creative always makes me happy. I've been able to explore this during quarantine, and have really have taken the time to do things that I want to do. I think that being creative can be helpful to anyone, as it's a great outlet from all that's going on in the world.
The biggest project that I've done is making masks. I posted on Facebook that I sew masks and that I can deliver them to anyone who needs them. I don’t charge anything from them, and all of the responses I’ve gotten have been very positive and thankful. Being creative and also helping the community has made me extremely happy. I’ve also done some painting and drawing: basically anything that I have the supplies in my house to do.
What will be the best memories from the Marblehead High Class of 2020 that you'll always remember?: One of the best memories for the MHS Class of 2020 will definitely be Powder Puff. Playing flag football against Swampscott was so much fun. We would practice every night, and it was just such a good way to talk to people you might not have otherwise talked to. It was also just really fun to play a huge game of football with the whole grade as a team. And of course, the win against Swampscott was definitely memorable.
— As told to Phil Stacey