Seniors Reflect on Girls Tennis Team’s Impact

November 9, 2022

The 2022 girls tennis team poses for a team photo. Photograph Courtesy of Marianne Michels

Moving up a division this year with tougher competition didn’t stop the girls tennis team from achieving a 12-2 season record. 

Senior Anne Jackson admits that the change was a new challenge. 

“[One of the biggest challenges was] definitely adapting to the teams we played because obviously, everybody plays differently,” Jackson said. “It is a bit of a struggle getting used to that, especially… during post season because everybody is just as good as anybody else. So, it’s definitely much more of a challenge to play them.”

However, the tennis team pushed past the adversity and prospered. But their success did not just come from their team play. Senior Peyton Joines believes in having skillsets from outside of the court as well. 

“To me, I think tennis is a mental game to be honest,” Joines said. “I think that it’s important to have the skill and to be able to have play time outside of the sport, whether that’s tournaments or lessons. If you don’t have a strong mental game, and if you beat yourself up if you lose a point or you’re just not confident going into it, it’s a game changer. If you step onto the court and you’re not confident, you’re not going to win. Even if you’re playing the number one in the state, you got to step onto the court and think you’re going to win and that you can do it.”

Senior Anne Jackson  knows a solid playing style is not the only aspect that wins games as well. 

“Someone who can communicate well with their partner [is usually successful],” Jackson said. “People that know each other can play well together, and that’s what leads to a successful team. It’s really good communication and keeping a positive mindset towards each other [that helps to win the match].” 

Senior Anne Jackson prepares to serve. Photograph Courtesy of Anne Jackson

The team’s mental game and communication skills were boosted by the tennis team’s strong sense of community, according to coach Marianne Michels.

“When you see the camaraderie that occurs on that team, and you know there’s some sports that don’t have that at all, and there are many issues with them, but I think they could learn from this group,” Michels said. “It’s not always [having] the best players on the team, but there’s always respect [for] everybody and the acceptance of ‘you can get there too.’… It’s a team. Even though it’s individual, it’s a team.”

The tennis team hosted many parties and team bonding events in order to make the girls tennis team more than just a sport. 

“These kids, you know, that couldn’t even hold a racket or swing it, and you think they are going to quit, and they didn’t,” Michels said. “And now it’s amazing how well they’re doing. And all of a sudden they’re just like they realized themselves… so it’s really cool.” 

Although this year’s season was an astounding success, it still marks the last year of play for the seniors like Jackson.

“It’s bittersweet,” Jackson said. “I’m so grateful that Coach Michels has given us the opportunities that we’ve had as a team, especially all being able to work so well together… Obviously, I’m very sad to be leaving, because I know as a team, we could have accomplished a lot more if we had one more season. I’m just grateful for the opportunities that I had because of tennis.” 

Joines also recognizes that behind all the winning and excellence are the connections that have been made. 

“The thing that is sad is leaving the relationships and the friendships that I have made because it has been the best four years of my life,” Joines said. “Whether being on the girls team as well as managing the guys- that group of people- they have been my best friends.” 

For Michels, she experiences another group of seniors’ last season with Susquehannock. 

“It’s sad,” Michels said. “They were really a special group, so this is going to be tough… They’ve been with me forever. From elementary school, when they started New Freedom’s program.”  

Both the players and the coach are confident in the underclassmen athletes’ abilities to step up and continue the team’s excellence on and off the court. 

The tennis team huddles together after senior Peyton Joines places in counties. Photograph Courtesy of Peyton Joines

 

 

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