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High school court sports

Just their racket: Coaching Mariner tennis perfect fit for Heath, Hall

Hall coached Heath previously as Oceanside student-athlete, now two guide spring teams
By Mark Haskell | Apr 02, 2021
Photo by: Mark Haskell Joanna Hall, left, and Allison Heath, Oceanside tennis coaches. Hall previously coached the Mariner girls and will lead the boys this season. Heath coaches the Mariner girls. Interestingly, Hall coached Heath previously as a Mariner student-athlete.

Rockland — The Oceanside High School tennis teams have new coaches this season, though both are familiar faces in new places.

The Mariner girls will be led by Allison Heath, who is a mathematics teacher at OHS and former standout Mariner student-athlete.

The 27-year-old Heath, formerly Allison Ward, is a 2012 OHS graduate and was part of the school’s inaugural graduating class.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to coach tennis this year,” said Heath. “I have taken a few years off from coaching to complete my master's degree, and I am excited to be back.”

Heath held the first singles spot during her junior and senior seasons in high school and also excelled in field hockey, where she was named first-team all-conference and All-State her senior year. She also participated in indoor and outdoor track.

She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and played field hockey for the Huskies. She was a team captain her junior and senior year and finished her collegiate career with 19 goals and six assists.

This is Heath’s second stint coaching a varsity sport after coaching the Lincoln Academy field hockey team in 2016.

Heath said she feels “fortunate to teach and coach where I went to school.”

“I had a lot of great teachers and coaches at this school that made me want to be both a teacher and a coach,” said Heath. “I hope to be that same motivator for some of my students and athletes as my teachers/coaches were for me.”

One of those was Hall, who is a physical education teacher at OHS and also coached Heath during her days playing field hockey at OHS and Rockland District High School.

Hall took over the Mariner girls tennis program in 2014, at the last minute, when the position remained unfilled days before the start of the regular season. She guided the program six seasons before stepping down prior to what would have been the start of last season, which was canceled due to COVID-19.

When a similar situation happened this spring with the boys program, Hall answered the call.

“I had quite a few projects at home that needed my attention, so I stepped down last year,” said Hall. “Fast forward to this spring, and our boys team was without a coach. They are a good group of boys and I have had most of them in class, so I told [athletic director] Molly [Harriman] that my projects can wait.”

She added she “can’t begin to express just how much I think of Allison.”

“She was one of the best field hockey players I have ever coached and was also a three-year captain for me,” said Hall. “I have always said that she set the example of what an Oceanside field hockey player should aspire to be, as a student-athlete, teammate, leader, and as a person. Our community is very fortunate to have her back here at Oceanside as a teacher and as a coach working with our kids. I am looking forward to coaching tennis with her.”

The two have been conducting dual practices, with the Mariner girls boasting nearly 20 players. Heath said without a high school season last year, “we have two grades coming up that have yet to have the opportunity to play tennis for the school” and several are new to the sport.

“This season will be a great one to grow as a team and learn the sport, with the help from a handful of experienced upperclassmen as well,” she said. “In our first practice [Tuesday, March 30], we had a lot of fun learning, making mistakes, trying again and feeling some success, which is really what it is all about. We have a great group of almost 20 young ladies this season, and I am excited to see where the season will take us.”

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