Matt Constanza, Hopedale High School to St. Michaels

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

It all began around the age of five or six when Matt Constanza decided to join the Hopedale summer tennis program. After playing in the program for a few years he decided to take his game to the next level and started joining club teams like the Adirondak Club in Franklin, the Westboro Swim and Tennis Club and the Longfellow Club in Wayland, to improve upon his game.
By the time he entered the Hopedale Junior/Senior High School he was tennis ready. Now six years later he is about to graduate and move onto college where he will continue to swing his racket for St Michaels College in Colchester Vermont.
“Up until the time that I got into seventh grade tennis was an individual competition, but once there I realized that although it was an individual aspect for yourself, the main goal was to win for the better of the team,” Constanza said. “At that point playing tennis in college was kind of the goal, but it was a reality until my junior year when I started playing USTA Tournaments and realized the opportunity was out there.”
Although there were other schools on Constanza’s list of where to attend college, St Michaels always seemed to be to number one choice. Nothing else seemed to compare to the school from its beautiful campus to the coaching staff and other team members.
St. Michaels Head Coach Jason Hammel identified Constanza early on as a player who would fit the school’s program.
We did a lot of research on Matt and then had him in for a visit. We look at what we have, how would he fit into our culture and can we help him improve,” the Coach said. “We like to develop our players and he had that potential to play on our team, he was exactly what we were looking for.”
Hammel believes that the Hopedale athlete can see playing time in their in his very first year despite having some strong talented athletes coming back. While the Purple Knights have their doubles teams intact, Constanza would most likely see action at one of the singles positions.
Hopedale Coach Ryan Mulry, who has been at the Blue raider helm for the past two seasons, believes that Constanza will be an asset to the Purple Knights on the tennis court.
“Matt has power in his shot and he has a ton of them in his arsenal. He is a hard worker and his backhand has become next to none since last year,” the Blue Raider Coach said. “He is a very emotional kid on the court, so he may need to keep that in check on the college level, but overall I believe that he’ll be fine, especially that he plays year round. He’ll be ready.”
When Mulry took over the program it was predominately know that Constanza was going to be the leader of the team. As a junior captain, the new coach found him to be a natural leader that was always willing to help the team out in any way he could.
“He was playing second singles to begin that year but first singles was something that he was vying for,” Mulry said. “He went 15-4 last year at second singles for us and about two weeks into this season he grabbed hold of the first singles spot and hasn’t let go since. He’s playing top notch guys and has fared well securing some huge wins for us in the process.”
As a seventh grader Constanza began his Hopedale tennis career playing third singles and by the end of the year with the Blue Raiders tied at 2 in the District Semi Finals it was his match that would decide who moved on. Unfortunately, after a hard fought set match with everything on his back he fell in a heartbreaker. That loss would be the beginning of the turnaround; Constanza vowed never lose in that way again.
Through his six year high school career he has primarily played singles, but occasionally has been part of a doubles tandem for Hopedale. Since his confidence level has gone up, he is now playing a much more aggressive game instead of just hitting the3 ball over the net and hoping that his opponent makes a mistake.
It was during his sophomore season in which Hopedale captured their first District Championship taking down Whitinsville-Christian. Constanza was a big part of the win taking out a senior at second singles.
Having lost in the State Finals the past two seasons Constanza is hoping that the Blue Raiders can finally turn things around and be on the other side this season before he heads off to college.