Merrimack College courts Klaren


Colin Henke

Captain Kelly Klaren on her way to a home match.

Annabelle Cutrer and Simone Davis

On Nov. 14, senior Kelly Klaren will sign her National letter of intent (NLI) to play Division 1 tennis at Merrimack College. Putting her signature on paper comes after 12 years of playing the sport, an experience that began when she first picked up a racket at Vineyard Youth Tennis (VYT), a free tennis program for all Island children.

High-level coaching at no cost prompted Kelly’s dad to sign her up for her first session at VYT when she was five. Kelly said, “Right after my first practice, it just stuck. It just felt right for me.”

Under the coaching of Scott Smith and Mike Hallisky, Kelly became a dedicated member of the VYT Futures Team early in elementary school, and she later joined the tournament team, which allowed her to compete in multiple state tournaments throughout middle school.

Mr. Hallisky said, “It has been a fun journey with plenty of ups and downs, which all really helped to mold Kelly and give her the character that has led her to be so mature.”

Kelly made the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s (MVRHS) varsity team as a freshman, and was named a captain by her junior year. As first single, she has helped lead the MVRHS team to three state championship titles.

Kelly’s high school teammates consist of girls who have grown up playing alongside her at VYT. MVRHS graduate Lizzie Williamson is a former tennis captain and teammate who has played with and against her since the Futures Team in middle school. “Kelly is the one putting in hours on weekends, in the gym, and even out-of-state training, to better her game,” Lizzie said. “She is someone we all look up to.”

MVRHS Head Coach Nina Bramhall has also coached at VYT, and seen Kelly’s development as a player throughout the years. She said, “Her determination and belief in herself is her biggest strength, coupled with fantastic athletic ability and tennis skills. These are what can take her across the finish line, as we have seen many times.”

Kelly will be one of the first of many members of the class of 2019 to sign letters of intent to play at the collegiate level.