Julia Migliorini quickly pointed out the things she improved on between her sophomore and junior tennis seasons at North Haven High: her backhand, her net game and her second serve.
That only made things worse for her opposition in the Southern Connecticut Conference: another undefeated season for now the two-time reigning Register Area MVP for girls tennis.
Migliorini also said she improved upon dealing with nerves. That wouldn’t seem that big of a deal – experiencing nerves before taking the court or floor isn’t uncommon for athletes. But it was much more than that for Migliorini.
“I would get extremely nervous before any high school match last year. Sometimes, I couldn’t breathe. I had panic attacks,” Migliorini said. “I felt a lot of pressure. The year before was hard for me, to have such high expectations.”
She particularly remembers a State Open match against one of her rivals, Amity’s Daphne Kreiger, in the third round of the State Open. “I was shaking and I couldn’t breathe,” Migliorini said.
Migliorini dropped just four games in that match to advance.
She says she deals with it much better now. Yes the nerves, and sometimes panic, still sets in, but pre-match meditation has helped a great deal among other things.
“In my home matches, I go early before everyone else and sit there, close my eyes and breathe,” Migliorini said. “I bring natural oils, I put on my hands and breathe them in. They are all different smells.”
Migliorini, 17, said she used the natural oils during one of the matches this year to calm her nerves.
You would never know all of that by the way Migliorini has played. She went 26-1, her only loss in the State Open quarterfinals. She grew a couple of inches to 5-foot-9, only helping her with an already-powerful forehand and the ability to close out matches quicker with that improved backhand and second serve.
“She doesn’t talk a lot about it. I tell her not to be nervous because she is so prepared with all the work she puts in before the match,” said North Haven coach Bob Migliorini, Julia’s dad. “The only time she comes and says anything to me is before a big match. You would never know, she is calm and collected even during the match. She hides it pretty well.”
Julia Migliorini’s only regular-season loss was her very first – to Kreiger in April of 2016. She stands at 74-4 over her first three seasons.
“She used to win matches by staying out there, not be aggressive and wait for her opponent to make mistakes,” Bob Migliorini said. “In the past year she can put the ball away and hit girls off the court. That’s what she has been doing more over the course of time, using her forehand as a weapon. She’s becoming much more aggressive. It’s been a steady progression.”
What’s left for Julia to accomplish? A perfect season, perhaps? That would mean running the table at the State Open. She lost in the quarterfinals this year to Wilton’s Isabella Koziol in straight sets.
She will play a busy schedule of New England tournaments this summer. In the midst of that, she will likely decide on one of a handful of Division I schools. The Migliorinis declined to mention which schools.
“Another reason I would get so nervous (before matches) is because I know colleges are looking,” Julia said. “It is about academics too, but it’s also about what college team or coach can bring me to the next level. I want to be worked hard in college. I want to play for a coach who 100 percent believes in me.”
Said Bob, who also coaches tennis at Albertus Magnus: “She needs to keep improving her serve, improving her backhand and improve on strength and conditioning. College is on a different level. But there is no doubt in my mind a year from now will be better player. She trains year-round and doesn’t take time off.”