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Belchertown’s Meghan Bernard to play tennis at UMass

  • Meghan Bernard, who plays first singles for Belchertown, returns against Hopedale, Monday during the Division 3 state semifinal at Western New England University. JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meghan Bernard, who plays first singles for Belchertown, returns against Katie Meon, of South Hadley, Friday during the Division 3 championship at Western New England University. JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meghan Bernard, of Belchertown, returns a shot from Hailey Gurski, of Minnechaug, during the semifinal match of the Western Massachusetts Girls Tennis Individual Championship on Saturday at Longmeadow High School.

  • Meghan Bernard, of Belchertown, returns a shot from Hailey Gurski, of Minnechaug, during the semifinal match of the Western Massachusetts Girls Tennis Individual Championship on Saturday at Longmeadow High School.

  • Meghan Bernard, of Belchertown, returns a shot from Hailey Gurski, of Minnechaug, during the semifinal match of the Western Massachusetts Girls Tennis Individual Championship on Saturday at Longmeadow High School.



@MattVautourDHG
Friday, July 21, 2017

When Meghan Bernard made the decision to spend her senior year at Connections Academy instead of Belchertown High School, the goal was to play tennis in college.

Connections is a public virtual school, allowing her to structure her day around becoming a better tennis player as she spent hours everyday at the Manchester Athletic Club.

That hard work turned into a spot on the tennis team at UMass, where she’ll walk-on in the fall.

“I was hoping for UMass. It all worked out really well,” she said.

Bernard said her days were broken up into regimented sections.

8:30-11:30 a.m. school work

12:30-2:30 tennis

2:30-3:30 fitness

4:30-7 more tennis

7 p.m. to ? was more school

She thought the time management, discipline and self-motivation required to succeed would help her in college.

“You have to study on your own and then teach yourself as you’re learning the (academic) lessons,” Bernard said. “It gave me an opportunity to practice so much more than when I went to normal high school. I’m glad I made that decision.”

She’d originally been offered a walk-on spot by now-retired coach Judy Dixon, an offer that will be honored by new coach Juancarlos Nunez.

Bernard, whose sister Caitlin plays at Indiana, led Belchertown to a Western Massachusetts Division 3 Championship in 2016. Playing at a Division I school was a goal for Meghan Bernard.

“My sister is in Division I, and I wanted to be like her,” she said.

Bernard is ranked No. 8 in Massachusetts and in the top 25 in New England as a junior player by tennisrecruiting.net. She’s hoping to go from walk-on to contributor for the Minutewomen.

“My goal is to play on the lineup at some point,” she said. “If not next year then the years after that.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage